In 1987, two teenage friends ran away from home in search of adventure and independence. Instead they found themselves faced with losing their freedom forever.
Hear one man’s side of the story at The Ohio State University at Newark.
Kempis “Ghani” Songster was 15 years old when he was tried for murder as an adult and received a life sentence without parole in Pennsylvania. After serving 30 years — and multiple Supreme Court rulings which changed sentencing regulations for juvenile offenders — Songster was released from prison in 2017.
Songster discusses his journey as an adolescent in the adult jail and prison systems and the effects of incarceration on the health and well-being of people and communities.
According to The Redemption Project, Songster ran away with two friends from their homes in Brooklyn to “become somebody” in Philadelphia when they were in the ninth grade. Songster and one of those friends became part of a notorious Jamaican gang and sold drugs from the mail slot of a fortified row house. Four months later there was a fatal altercation with another runaway which led to the imprisonment of the two friends.
While in prison, Songster took college courses and consulted with politicians on criminal justice and incarceration issues.
Since his release, he has partnered with the staff at the Amistad Law Project where he continues to advocate for the release of others, as well as to end the life without parole sentencing and death by incarceration.
“A Journey Home: Healing Justice for a National Health Crisis” will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on October 17, in the John L. and Christine Warner Library and Student Center Performance Platform.
The discussion is free and open to the public.