Find Jerry Geiger’s display at 2 PPG Place (in the lobby).
“When I went into prison, I said, Lord – I said this in my heart – I’m not going to serve time, time’s going to serve me. And so I was able to go to the law library and study law.”
Twenty years ago, I was incarcerated for writing prescriptions for narcotics. Crime of forgery. I pled guilty and I was supposed to get two to four years in prison, which I was okay with. When it came time for sentencing, they gave me two to five years, and fifteen years’ probation. That’s really a twenty-year sentence. When I went into prison, I said, “Lord, I’m not going to serve time, time’s going to serve me.” So, I was able to go to the law library and study law.
I had a bad record, but I knew they were going to send me to a prison where they could utilize my skills because I had had some schooling. Sure enough, they sent me to Waynesburg which had no fence at the time. That was in 1993. I got a good administrative job in the prison. I wrote proposals for Harrisburg. They have what’s called the Inmate General Welfare Fund. Everything that’s bought in commissary? So many pennies go into that fund. That fund has hundreds of millions of dollars that helps support programs for different prisons. Well, I wrote the proposals that helped support programs for different prisons. That allowed me to study law. I got good at studying the law and became a jailhouse lawyer. I ended up getting my sentence reduced by a few months.
Later, the county agencies that govern probation violated my constitutional rights. Thank God I had studied the law. I filed a writ of mandamus with the State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in 2000 against Allegheny County’s president senior judge, who was at the time Robert E. Dower, a very good judge. I was exonerated. They took my sentence and vacated the remainder of fifteen years. I walked out a free man. I went to school at CCAC and got my Associate degree as a paralegal. I’m a certified paralegal today.
If I had any support it was from another inmate. Richard Toner was a brilliant man. His personality was really obnoxious. People didn’t like him, but I could look past his personality for what he had to offer me with his intelligence in the law. He had fifty-five to one hundred ten years and got his sentence down to ten to twenty. He ended up doing almost the whole twenty years though, because they would put him up for parole and he’d say, “I’m not leaving!” because he had nothing to leave for. Then one day he said, “Jerry, I’m leaving.” I said, “What happened Rich?” He said, “My daughter came to see me today. I haven’t seen her in twenty-two years. I have a reason to leave today.” The parole board had said, “When you want to leave, let us know.” He was out within sixty days. He went home.