The appeal of a true story is often compelling but Geiger has taken it to the next level with his book, In the Matter of Edwin Potter.
Geiger puts the spotlight on schizophrenia but presents the whole picture of how the criminal justice system can fall short in protecting the society but not those suffering from mental illness. He could have just written a documentary to tell his story but he gave life to Edwin Potter in a way that is enormously compelling, fast-paced, and sustains intense interest.
This is a fascinating look inside Edwin’s mind and sheds light on the question, “Is mental illness a crime?” Consider how one day, a 25-year old, married young man who has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and consistently maintains academic excellence throughout can endanger the lives of his own wife and son. Such is the tragedy of schizophrenia and the delusions that come with it that clouds Edwin’s mind and makes him think he had to end his family’s life including his own in order to save them. Not history of arrests and use of illegal drugs but like some heartless criminal, he is arrested, sent to a maximum-security psychiatric hospital, and faced trial.
Father Shawn, from the Catholic Church his family attends, visits him and recalls how Edwin and his wife are model couples that other parish members aspire to. Edwin is acquitted for reasons of insanity but remains in the State Psychiatric Hospital, struggling for his freedom as the judge considers him a threat to society. Edwin meets other patient-inmates and caregivers but meeting Ruth Nussbaum, R.N. became a turning point in his life. Eventually, the restrictions loosen and he is released back to society. His good nature prevails and he gets employed, acquires his professional license, and completes his master’s degree with flying colors. He starts a new family, launches a writing career, and receives recognition through national awards. But a relapse was looming in the distance and he gets sent back to the County Psychiatric facility. At this time, mental illness is considered a chemical imbalance in the brain. He receives better treatment and later released under parental supervision. Better equipped to reenter the outside world, he performs better and the world gets hold of his life-changing article, “Reducing Recidivism”. He submits the article to The Criminal Justice College and New York City implements his recommendations. His struggles remain but the foundation of his recidivism revolution grows stronger. The end of this story is only the start of something bigger.
Geiger is clear that it needed an Edwin Potter to have to send out the message to help produce the much-needed change. In the Matter of Edwin Potter tackles the issue of recidivism complete with experienced-based recommendations and points of action that can bring about real change in society as a whole.
Geiger’s ability to transcend despite mental issues as portrayed by Edwin Potter is more than inspirational. Intelligent, creative, and relentless Geiger took action, contacted people within the system, encouraged research, looked for funding, helped formulate a prison reentry program and so much more.
An inside story turned life mission on criminal justice system reform with a special focus on the vicious cycle of recidivism…the ultimate page-turner.