After a rigorous national search led by YSRP’s Board of Directors and supported by Monday Morning Consultants, YSRP is thrilled to announce Bianca van Heydoorn as the new Executive Director.
YSRP’s work supporting Mr. Joe Ligon, and specifically the tireless commitment of Reentry Coordinator John Pace and Senior Advisor Eleanor Myers, was featured in an exclusive report by DailyMail.com reporter Megan Sheets in her story about Mr. Ligon on February 16, 2021. Mr. Ligon left prison after 68 years of incarceration, at the age of 83, on February 11, 2021.
John Pace and Eleanor Myers spoke about what Mr. Ligon is likely to encounter as they navigate his reentry with him:
‘YSRP has been instrumental in the mitigation and reentry of approximately 40 former juvenile lifers from Philadelphia who were all children when they were sentenced to die in prison,’ Pace said. ‘For most of them, the world has changed considerably and it has been a challenge adjusting to these changes; however, most of them have demonstrated their deep resilience and have become productive members of their respective communities.
‘Joe may have his own set of unique challenges, and we will listen carefully to what he tells us about the support he thinks he will need.’
Myers added: ‘In my role at YSRP, I have observed that the reentry journey is different for each person. ‘Though everyone is extremely grateful for the opportunity for a second chance, the difficulties many encounter as formerly incarcerated people in finding work, housing, and navigating technology, for example, are considerable.
‘Each person responds in his or her own way. Despite these challenges, the juvenile lifers have been remarkably successful in navigating their reentry.’
For Ligon, one of the biggest changes over the past seven decades have been in his family, as many members did not live long enough to see him walk free.
‘He is in touch with his niece and great niece, but most of the people that he knew have since passed away,’ Pace said. ‘And the people that he is most familiar with are the people that he was incarcerated with throughout his 68 years in prison. ‘This is why I hope to introduce him to the community of former juvenile lifers in Philadelphia, because he knew many of them.’