After being freed from prison, the oldest juvenile lifer in the US is ‘amazed’ by the skyscrapers around him. Joe Ligon was sentenced to life in prison when he was 15 years old, having taken part in a spree of robb*ry and assa-ults that left two people d*ad and six others stabbed – however, he’s always den!ed k-ill*ng anyone.
After nearly seven decades behind ba-rs, the 83-year-old walked free from Phoenix’s State Correctional Institution in Montgomery County on February 11, into Philadelphia; nowadays, it’s a whole new world.
Following his departure from prison, Philadelphia’s Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP) has been working to ensure he transitions into normal life without any *ssues, as it could all be quite daunting after 68 years.
Eleanor Myers, a senior adviser at YSRP, told the MailOnline: ‘As much as the world has changed since Mr Ligon first went to prison, he has also changed. His experience in coming back is basically as a new man. He is incredibly che-erful and amazed at the changes in Philadelphia since 1953, in particular the tall buildings.’
Imprisoned since 1953, when he was just 15 years old. Someone else killed & he, a child, paid for it.
Released yesterday after 68 yrs!
To put time in perspective, this was before Rosa parks took a seat and Dr. King lead the Montgomery bus boycott
How do you reconcile this? 😭 pic.twitter.com/GLhHdtl0X6
— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) February 13, 2021
Shortly after his release, Ligon spoke to The Philadelphia Inquirer about seeing the city again. ‘I’m looking at all the tall buildings. This is all new to me. This never existed,’ he said.
Myers continued: ‘He has talked about those in his family who are gone and cannot be together for his homecoming. He seems to miss them especially. There is a large community of juvenile lifers who knew Joe for many years in prison. They will undoubtedly become his new circle of friends and supporters.’
John Pace, a fellow juvenile lifer who was released from his life sentence four years ago, later becoming a reentry coordinator at YSRP, has known Ligon for years.
Discussing his recent work with Ligon, he said: ‘I have been with him in the three days since his release, and I have tried to take it slow with him and allow him to take in the new environment, and not try to figure it all out in one day.’ Pace added: ‘I have tried to settle his nerves or emot-ions by helping him to be around familiar people and slowly introduce him to new things – drawing on my own reentry experience while still allowing him to share with me what it is that he wants.’
Ligon watched news programmes on a small TV in his cell pr*or to being released, in the hope it would prepare him for life on the outside. ‘I like my chances. I really like my chances in terms of surv!ving,’ he said.