Joshua Lee Wade was born in Springfield, Ohio, on April 26th, 1988. He was delivered with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. Due to the reduced amount of oxygen that he received, he was born with a blue appearance.
After this rocky start, Josh showed great potential to be a happy child. He and his two brothers grew up closely together, and his mom and dad worked hard to satisfy their kids' needs.
However, Josh's family had it rough. His dad became addicted to crack cocaine, and his mom struggled to provide for her three children.
Josh, his brothers, and the rest of the family started to fall apart. On top of that, Josh was sexually abused by one of his uncles. This abuse went on for several years and caused Josh to feel shame, guilt, and hatred for many years. To escape the madness in his home, Josh turned to the streets.
As a teen, Josh was easily influenced by people who didn't have the best intentions. He slid into drugs, and in April of 2005, he started to hang out with a man that had just been released from prison. Shortly thereafter, Joshua was arrested. The verdict: life in prison. You can find one of the many newspaper articles that was written about Josh right here.
The one person that stood by Josh's side through trials and tribulations was his mother. She fell into a severe depression, though, especially after Josh lost his appeal in 2007.
You can find Joshua's appeal here.
At the Correctional Reception Center (CRC), Josh lost a lot of weight. He was trying to come to terms with the fact that he was going to spend the rest of his life in prison. During the only visit that Josh received from his father at CRC, his father and his mother started fighting. Josh couldn't handle the negativity and told his dad not to come back (if fighting was all they could do). He hasn't seen him in 14 years.
During his first years of incarceration, Joshua didn't make the smartest choices. He received tickets, hung out with the wrong crowd once again, and didn't really care about his education. After all, he was going to die behind bars anyway.
Then, in 2011, Joshua received mail from Stefanie Tengler. Stefanie is extremely passionate about teen justice. When she stumbled upon Josh's case on the internet, she was dumbfounded. In her home country Germany, teenagers would never receive a 56-years-to-life sentence. Germany's juvenile justice system is based on principles of restorative justice rather than retribution.
Josh and Stefanie started to send each other JPays. In 2012, Steff visited Joshua for the first time. The two have been inseparable ever since.
Today, Joshua has over two thousand supporters from all over the world. People from Germany, the U.K., France, Puerto Rico, Canada, Uganda, and the U.S. are united for his freedom.
Ever since Steff came into Josh's life, Josh has changed his life around. He completed his GED and enrolled in numerous programs. Amongst them: The Family is First Project, the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program through Xavier University, and the dog program that 4 Paws for Ability offers. He is currently completing his Associates Degree in Business Administration through Sinclair Community College.
If you would like to learn more about any of these programs or any of the other things that Josh does behind bars, please have a look at the Positive Change section here on his website.
If you would like to meet Joshua or reconnect with him, please drop us a line in the message box below. Make sure to leave your name and e-mail address. We will get back to you within 24 hours. We'd love to help you fill out a visitor application.