“This is where it starts.”
Those were the parting words delivered to paroled juvenile lifer Kempis Songster as he walked out of Graterford Prison on Thursday morning, words of kindness delivered with a hug from an unexpected source: Natasha Walker, the correctional officer at the desk in the lobby of the visitor center,
“Keep up the fight,” she called to him.
Walker was one of several prison officers who made it a point to say goodbye to Songster, 45, one of the highest profile of the lifers, including one who told him on his way out, “You’re a good person.”
Songster’s nearly 30-year journey from convicted teen killer, sentenced in 1988 to life without parole, to freed middle-aged adult walking out of prison in 2017 touched more than the 27 teary relatives who traveled from New York and North Carolina, and a half-dozen other supporters who made the frigid sunrise trip to the Montgomery County prison.