Longest-Serving Juvenile Lifer In The World Rejects Parole

Behind bars since 1953, the man maintains he is innocent and should never have been locked up in the first place.

Joseph Ligon from Pennsylvania has turned down parole after serving 63 years in jail.

Ligon and five other members of his gang were charged in the stabbing deaths of two teens Charles Pitts and Jackson Hamm during a gang brawl. Ligon admits he stabbed a man, but he didn't die. However, he was persuaded to plead guilty to murder, and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

His fellow gang members have since died or were released from prison.

"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," he said in a 2010 interview.

He went to prison when he was 15. Ligon is now 79 and the longest-serving juvenile lifer in the world.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled  sentencing juveniles to life in prison was unconstitutional and that they should have the possibility of parole.

Some 300 inmates in Philadelphia are eligible for re-sentencing under the ruling.

Ligon is also entitled to a parole, but he doesn't want it.

“His view is, he’s been in long enough,” says Bradley Bridge of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. "He doesn’t want to be on probation or parole. He just wants to be released.”

Three other inmates have also rejected re-sentencing offers.

His case is reminiscent of Paul Gatling, who was wrongfully convicted of a 1964 murder and ended up spending 52 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.

Banner/Thumbnail Credit: Pixabay, Devanath

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