America’s Oldest Juvenile Lifer Is ‘Amazed’ By Skyscrapers After Walking Free After 68 Years In Prison

Imagine unjustly spending your entire adult life in jail to finally be released into a world that you barely recognize at 80 years old. This is the reality for Joseph Lignon, who, after spending 68 years in prison, saw a real-life skyscraper for the first time this year. He is the oldest juvenile lifer in America — and he’s finally free.

Oldest Juvenile Lifer Freed After 68 Years In Prison

68 years in prison is a long time to spend behind bars. This is especially true when you are put there at just 15 years old. Joseph Lignon, America’s oldest juvenile lifer, got caught up with the wrong people when he was just a young kid.

In 1953, Lignon participated in a string of robberies and assaults with a group of young teens that left two people dead. Though he did admit to stabbing some people, he didn’t actually kill anyone. Despite that, the courts sentenced him to life in prison before he was even old enough to drive a car.

Finally, on February 11 of this year, after great work by his attorney, Lignon was set free. Of course, the world he entered is drastically different from the one he knew when he was just a young teenager.

No Parole for Lignon

In the 1970s, he was offered clemency along with his accomplices. Unlike the rest, however, Lignon wanted full freedom or none at all, and clemency meant parole. He turned down the offer.

In another case involving a juvenile in 2012, the courts decided that a life sentence without the potential for parole is unlawful for juvenile offenses. They decided to apply this new rule retroactively to all juvenile offenders, reducing Lignon’s sentence to 35 years and therefore making him eligible for parole yet again. For the same reasons as before, however, he turned it down.

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