Oldest Juvenile Lifer in US Reveals What Amazed Him Most | 22 Words

After spending sixty-eight years in prison, the oldest juvenile lifer in the US has been released and he's revealed what amazed him most about the world now...

Can you imagine spending sixty-eight years in just one place?

Seeing the same 4 walls?

That's been reality for one eighty-three-year-old juvenile lifer.

But now, he's been released and as you can imagine a lot has changed.

And there's one thing that amazed him the most...

But first, here's what other people have said their biggest surprises about the outside world were...


"Spent six years behind bars. When I got out, the biggest shock was the beautiful sights and colors. I forgot how gorgeous nature was. It put the thought into my mind that I never want to go back, because there is no beauty in prison, the beauty is on the outside. I'm glad I'm out now, and every day I still take in the amazing outside world for what it is."


"You forget about the details of things. Like the way carpet feels on the bottoms of your feet. What it feels like to shower completely alone and without flip flops on."

The self-checkout

"I spent roughly nine years in total at a maximum security prison for some dumb decisions I made as a juvenile. Self checkout stands at stores and wireless headphones were definitely one of those 'this can't be real' moments. I questioned reality. Like when you cannot explain an instance and it scares you trying to cope with, 'Did that really happen?' That's how it felt."

Automated doors

"My uncle was in prison for 24 years and was released three years ago. He said what shocked him the most was how automated things were. Automated doors, self-checkouts, using your face/fingerprint to unlock a phone. Things that were so simple to the rest of us."


"I have 2 family members who did a very decent amount of time...and of all the things that could've blown their mind, Spotify was the biggest. Even the obscure house artists they were buddies with back in '89 were on there. Not having to burn any CDs or buy records. They still can't get over it."


"I did six years. My biggest shock was finding out you can't do much of anything without a smartphone. Companies don't even do paper applications anymore."


"[My uncle] had been in prison for about 30 years and he didn't believe that you can just order stuff from the internet and it would be delivered. So we ordered dinner from Seamless, my treat, and he practically power-walked to the door when the bell rang. He swung the door open and enthusiastically greeted the delivery boy."


"One of the hardest things for me once I got out was making choices. Let me explain: In prison, you might have two choices for shampoo if you're lucky. The first time I went shopping for hygiene essentials was at Target. I remember being so overwhelmed by the amount of choices for shampoo and having no idea which one to get. I stood in that aisle and cried for a few minutes before I just left without getting anything."


"My father was incarcerated from 2003 to 2016 and the biggest shock for him was technology and how much McDonald's has raised prices."

Next up is Joseph Ligon.

Ligon, eighty-three, is the nation's longest-serving juvenile inmate after being sentenced to life in 1953.

Last week, he walked free after spending the last sixty-eight years behind bars.


And he now faces a whole new world.

Ligon was fifteen years old when he was sentenced and convicted of taking part in a string of robberies and assaults with a group of drunk teens that left 2 people dead in Philadelphia.


Ligon has maintained that he didn't personally kill anyone in the incidents.

He was freed last week after Ligon's lawyer argued that the life sentence was unconstitutional.

But it didn't come easily.

Ligon's battle for freedom has been long and complicated.

Back in 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that imposing mandatory life sentences on juveniles constituted cruel and unusual punishment and were thus unconstitutional.

But despite that, several states - including Pennsylvania - refused to reduce the life sentences.

Eventually, the courts ordered states to retroactively reduce the sentences and so, Ligon was re-sentenced to thirty-five years to life back in 2017.

He was also offered the possibility of parole but refused to apply as, when explaining his reasoning to the Philadelphia Inquirer, he said he felt that parole didn't mean freedom.


Now released due to his attorney fighting for several years, Ligon is faced with freedom and probably fear, as the world isn't the same place it was sixty-eight years ago.

Philadelphia's Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP) have been working with Ligon to make his transition back in society easier.

Eleanor Myers, a senior adviser at YSRP, spoke to Dailymail.com and said, "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 cheerful and amazed at the changes in Philadelphia since 1953, in particular the tall buildings."

"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."

Fellow "juvenile lifer" John Pace is a reentry coordinator at YSRP and has known Ligon for many years.


Speaking the Dailymail.com he said, "I have been with him in the 3 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."

"I have tried to settle his nerves or emotions 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 with share with me what it is that he wants."


As per the Dailymail.com, Ligon spoke to the Inquirer about preparing for his release.

He revealed in the interview that he had prepared for the outside world by watching TV in his cell.

He said, "This is all new to me. This never existed.

"I like my chances. I really like my chances in terms of surviving."

While it may take a lot of adjusting, it will be worth it.

For more life stories, keep scrolling...