Joseph Ligon is 79 years old and has been serving a prison sentence for 63 years. However, he still claims he is innocent and never committed the crime he was accused of. He has recently been offered parole but turned it down.
Ligon says that he is not guilty of the crime he has been convicted for and feel as if he shouldn’t be in prison at all anymore. He doesn’t want to be on parole, he wants to be released for good. He doesn’t care what everyone thinks he did, he wants his freedom back.
Back in 2011 Logon spoke to writers at local newspapers about his time in jail and said:
“I’ve been able to deal with this situation because, in my mind and in my heart, I didn’t kill somebody. If I had, that would have worried me to death. There’s no way I could have done that and survived in here.”
‘His view is: He’s been in long enough,’ said Bradley Bridge, his defense attorney. ‘He doesn’t want to be on probation or parole. He just wants to be released.’
Joseph Ligon is the oldest prison inmate who was incarcerated as a juvenile and given a life sentence for his involvement in the stabbing deaths of two men in Philadelphia 63 years ago, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. He has also served longer than any other ‘juvenile lifer,’ as they are called. Yet a recent US Supreme Court decision which instituted a retroactive ban on mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders offered him a way out of prison.
In hearing Montgomery v. Louisiana, the court held that mandatory sentencing of juveniles to life without the possibility of parole violated the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which bars cruel and unusual punishment. That decision prompted reviews for the approximately 300 inmates from Philadelphia who are eligible for resentencing.
But when Ligon was offered a deal that would make him eligible for parole immediately, he declined. So far, 65 juvenile lifers have received offers to place them on immediate parole, while 26 more are due to be given new sentences. Three other prisoners have formally rejected offers for re-sentencing as well.
The offers of parole are in line with a 2012 law passed in Pennsylvania, which require authorities to impose minimum sentences of 35 years to ‘life against juveniles’ found guilty in first-degree cases with 30 years to life for second-degree cases.
That basically means that parole boards are the only ones that are empowered to release inmates. Becoming a situation critics say fails to retroactively apply the Supreme Court decision.