The Ohio State University at Newark

Former “Child Lifer” Speaks at Ohio State Newark

October 4, 2018

In 1987, two teenage friends boarded a train in search of adventure and independence. Instead they found themselves in a nightmare and faced with losing their freedom forever. Hear one man’s side of the story on Oct. 17, 2018 at The Ohio State University at Newark. “A Journey Home: Healing Justice for a National Health Crisis” will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the John L. and Christine Warner Library and Student Center Performance Platform (room 126). This discussion is free and open to the public.

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. He will discuss his journey as an adolescent in the adult jail and prison systems, and the lessons learned about 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. They were in ninth grade at the time. Only he and one other stayed, 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.

Songster spent his time in prison bettering himself. He took courses through Villanova University and consulted with politicians on criminal justice and incarceration issues. Since his release, he has joined the staff at the Amistad Law Project where he continues to work for the release of others, as well as to end the sentencing of human beings to life without parole or death by incarceration.

This event is sponsored by the Ohio State Newark Cultural Arts and Events Committee, Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Department of African American and African Studies. The Warner Center is located at 1209 University Drive in Newark.

The Ohio State University at Newark offers an academic environment that is inclusive of diversity, challenging but supportive with world-renowned professors and access to Ohio State’s more than 200 majors. It’s where learning comes to life. Research, study abroad and service learning opportunities prepare students for their careers in ways they never expected.