America’s oldest juvenile lifer has been released from prison after spending 68 years behind the bars. Eighty three-year-old Joseph Ligon was just 15 when he was sentenced to life imprisonment for taking part in a spree of robberies and assaults with a group of drunken teens in Philadelphia, which left two people dead and six injured with stab wounds. Imprisoned in 1953, Ligon refused to apply for parole as he denies killing anyone.
However, Ligon walked free from the State Correctional Institution- Phoenix in Montgomery County on February 11, Thursday. The old man is among the more than 500 other ‘juvenile lifers’ whose life sentence was reduced after the Supreme Court order.
In 2012, the Supreme Court, as a part of resentencing, ruled that life sentences imposed on juveniles were ‘cruel and unusual and thus were unconstitutional.’ While some states accepted the ruling, many states like Pennsylvania refused to reduce the life sentences. In 2017, after a court order, Pennsylvania reduced Ligon’s sentence to 35 years from life. Unlike others, he refused to seek parole as per Daily Mail.
Joe Ligon was released from prison today. He has been there since he was 15 years old. Falsely convicted in 1953.My 70 year old father was 3 years old. Eisenhower had just become president.68 years.Today's his first day out of prison since the Jim Crow era.God damn America pic.twitter.com/wEqRzzDLsz— Ted for stack (@TeddyRedder) February 12, 2021
Stating that he likes to be free, Ligon added that one can’t leave the city without permission from parole and that’s part of freedom for him. ‘I’m a special guy,’ Ligon sighed while coming out of the prison with a dozen large boxes, which the inmates aren’t usually allowed to.
Bradley Bridge, a lawyer with Defender Association of Philadelphia, who has represented Ligon since 2006, said ‘I guess you accumulate a lot of stuff in 68 years.’ Bridg’e motion was accepted by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office in November when it ordered Ligon to either be resentenced or released within 90 days.
Brighton hopes that his client’s release will cause re-evaluation of the way people are incarcerated pointing out the absurdity of over-incarcerating.
To update himself about the happenings around the world over 70 years, Ligon would stay informed through news he watched in his cell.Unilad reports, after being freed, he sighed looking at all the tall buildings sharing how that is all new to him. ‘This never existed,’ he said looking out of the elevator.