After 63 years of jail service for a crime he claims he didn’t commit, a man from Pennsylvania is turning down the opportunity for parole, as he claims he’s innocent and should never have been convicted in the first place.
Convicted for two murders at the age of 15 in 1953, he has declared his innocence for over 50 years. His story needs to be heard.
79-year-old Joseph Ligon was convicted back in 1953 when he was only 15. He was convicted for stabbing Charles Pitts and Jackson Hamm to death, and five other youths were also convicted.
The deaths happened as a result of a gang brawl. Joseph is developmentally disabled, and he admitted that he was part of the melee as well, but did not stab the two youths who were killed. Since his conviction, he has maintained his innocence.
The other defendants in the case have either passed away or have been released from prison.
In 2010, Ligon spoke with the local papers about his life behind bars.
“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.
The parole opportunity was presented to him after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling stated that sentencing juveniles to life is unconstitutional and they should have the possibility of a parole.
Over 300 prisoners in Pennsylvania are eligible for resentencing and many are being given a second chance, but Ligon and three other men are refusing the agreement that would make them eligible for parole.
Speaking before the court last week, Bradley Bridge of the Defender Association of Philadelphia said “His view is, he’s been in long enough. He doesn’t want to be on probation or parole. He just wants to be released.”
At 79 years old, Ligon is considered to be the longest-serving juvenile lifer in the world.