Democracy Now! - April 6, 2015
Days after being exonerated and freed from an Alabama prison, Anthony Ray Hinton recounts how he got through nearly 30 years on death row as an innocent man. Hinton was convicted of murdering two fast-food managers in separate robberies in 1985, based on scant evidence that later turned out to be false. Hinton is said to be among the longest-serving death row prisoners ever to be freed after presenting evidence of innocence. Hinton joins us along with his attorney, Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative, who says race, poverty, inadequate legal assistance, and prosecutorial indifference to innocence conspired to create a textbook example of injustice. "This is a very powerful demonstration of the critique of the American criminal justice system, which we contend treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent," Stevenson says.
After three decades on death row in Louisiana, Glenn Ford was freed in March 2014 based on new evidence clearing him of the 1983 fatal shooting a jewelry store owner. Ford is African American and was tried by an all-white jury. In 2000, the Louisiana Supreme Court ordered an evidentiary hearing on Ford’s claim that the prosecution suppressed favorable evidence related to two brothers initially implicated in the crime. Then in 2013, an unidentified informant told prosecutors that one of the brothers had admitted to shooting and killing the jewelry store owner. Shortly after Ford’s release last year, he received a second death sentence: stage three lung cancer, which has now advanced to stage four and spread to his bones, lymph nodes and spine. His attorney says he has entered hospice care in New Orleans. Ford filed a federal lawsuit claiming prison officials and medical authorities knew he had cancer in 2011, but denied him treatment. Glenn Ford is one of the longest-serving death row prisoners ever to be exonerated. Under Louisiana law he can ask for a maximum of $330,000 in compensation. But last week a judge denied his request, saying Ford was involved in two lesser crimes. We are joined by the lead prosecutor in Ford’s murder trial, Marty Stroud, who has come out in favor of his compensation. In a three-page letter to The Shreveport Times, Stroud said he no longer supports the death penalty, and apologized to Ford. "I apologize to Glenn Ford for all the misery I have caused him and his family," he wrote.
A leading association for pharmacists in the United States has instructed its members to stop providing drugs for use in lethal injections, a change that could make carrying out executions even more difficult for death penalty states. Late last month, delegates of the American Pharmacists Association approved a declaration saying the organization "discourages pharmacist participation in executions on the basis that such activities are fundamentally contrary to the role of pharmacists as providers of health care." The association, which has more than 62,000 members, is responsible for determining pharmacists’ ethical standards, but cannot legally force its decisions. Pharmacists now join physicians and anesthesiologists in having national organizations with ethical codes that discourage their members from partaking in executions. We are joined by Dr. Leonard Edloe, a retired pharmacist who co-wrote the American Pharmacist Association’s new policy against supplying lethal injection drugs. Last year, he received a lifetime achievement award from the association. He now serves as a pastor in Virginia after owning and operating a community pharmacy for four decades.