Just as he turned eight, a boy I will call Sam became totally paralyzed and spent three months on a respirator in a coma. The rest of the year he spent in a children’s rehabilitation hospital. He emerged with minor brain damage, learning disabilities, complex emotional problems and severe behavioral problems.
Under the strain of trying to cope with Sam, the family began to disintegrate. His mother suffered a psychotic break and was briefly hospitalized. At first when she returned home she was very depressed. Because neither the public school system nor his family could manage him, when he was 12 Sam was placed in the first of a series of residential schools that combined academics with programs of behavior modification.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).