Glenn Ford spent 30 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. He said he wasn't present for the murder of Isadore Roseman back in 1983, but he was convicted anyway and served three decades on death row in Louisiana. Last month, Ford was finally released thanks to the efforts of prosecutors who petitioned the court for his exoneration.
Ford entered prison in 1984 when he was a 34-year-old man. He left the system with just a $20 debit card and four cents in his prison account. Luckily (I guess) for Ford, his friend John Thompson teamed up with Danielle Mickenburg of the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana to create an Amazon wish list for him.
Of the 300 items they've listed, all but 16 have been purchased. Household items. Gift cards. Clothes. The type of material possessions a person accumulates during a lifetime on the outside.
Mickenberg has tried to keep the registry full of items at a range of price points so that no one shows up to a list full of big-ticket goods that they can't afford. "The things that are higher priced don't go off the list as quickly," but beyond that, she says, people seem to be willing to buy whatever he requests.
"Some of it are things that he needs and some of it are things he just wants. Since it's a wish list, we just said, you know, put anything that you would wish for on it," Mickenberg says. They've requested (and received) bolo ties, movie tickets ("he hasn't been to the movies in over 30 years"), and food: frozen dinners, staples, and a fruit basket. In prison they would get a donation of bananas in December, but for the most part, Ford has not had fresh fruit in three decades. Since leaving prison, he's eaten his first mango. "The stuff he has access to now," Mickenberg observes, "it's pretty incredible."
They've also set up a PayPal account, but the response hasn't been as staggering, as Mickenburg suspects that people feel more comfortable donating things than they do giving Ford money. [The Atlantic]