YSRP staff gathered on February 1, 2023, to celebrate freedom and commemorate the 7th anniversary of the landmark Montgomery v. Louisiana US Supreme Court decision with former Juvenile Lifers, advocates, and movement leaders.
Reporters Maura Ewing and Samantha Melamed profile the story of Haywood “Red Dog” Fennell who, at age 66, is one of the oldest Juvenile Lifers thus far to return home to Philadelphia. The article beautifully tells Mr. Fennell’s story of incarceration, beginning at the age of 20 (he was 17 at the time of the crime for which he was automatically sentenced to life without the possibility of parole). As well, the story reveals the deep network of relationships that sustained Mr. Fennell through his 46 years of incarceration, and through his return to the community.
Facing a reality that is not uncommon in Philadelphia, long the epicenter of Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP) sentencing, Ms. Ewing and Ms. Melamed poignantly ask: how do you find your place in the world as an old man when you’ve never lived in it as an adult?
YSRP’s Co-Director, Joanna Visser Adjoian, and JLWOP Reentry Coordinator, John Pace, were interviewed for the story, and YSRP’s support for former Juvenile Lifers in Philadelphia, and statewide through the PA JLWOP Reentry Navigator, are highlighted as contributions to the reentry process in a city with great need. The story also takes a wider look at resentencing trends in other states, as well as the burgeoning needs for older adults returning to communities after decades of incarceration.
Mr. Pace, himself a former Juvenile Lifer, adds powerful insight, stating that he wants the focus of reentry supports to move beyond the need for immediate services and help formerly incarcerated people actually thrive. Put simply, he says:
I don’t want to be in survival mode.