Joe Ligon, America’s oldest juvie lifer, has been released after 68 years of incarceration.
Ligon was imprisoned in February 1953 at the age of 15, given a mandatory life sentence
after pleading guilty to charges from a robbery and stabbing spree in Philadelphia
with four other teenage boys which left six people wounded and two people dead.
Now 83, Ligon reflects on how much life has changed since he was a teenager and
how much he had to prepare for this very moment.
Ligon walked out of Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institution
Phoenix on Thursday after serving nearly 68 years in prison. Ligon, of Philadelphia,
is the longest-serving juvenile “lifer” in the United States.
As he looked out upon the city from his lawyer’s eighth-floor office that day, he spoke to
a reporter. “I’m looking at all the tall buildings,” Ligon told the Philadelphia Inquirer
writer. “This is all new to me. This never existed.”
“I’m a grown-up now,” Ligon said to CNN
“I’m not a kid anymore. Not only am I a grown man, I’m an old man, and getting older
every day.”Ligon said he wanted others to learn from his experience.
“I’m really looking forward to pleasing people and help people the way they’re helping
me,” Ligon said, adding, “meeting some of the younger generation, with some of the older
generation, and some of the reporters … to share some of my story.”
Asked what it was like to be back in the world a day and a half after his release,
Ligon said: “Beautiful,” he said. “Beautiful.”