Fighting for Justice

9/18/2008 08:03:00 PM Eastern

In 1984, Lenell Geter had been in prison in Texas for 16 months, but, sentenced to life for armed robbery, things looked grim. But Geter, an engineer, was innocent, a man with no criminal record plucked off the street and wrongly accused largely because of the color of his skin.

Lenell Geter

His friends and family, his employer and the NAACP all labored to get him set free, but it wasn’t until investigative reporting by the Dallas Times-Herald caught the attention of 60 Minutes that Geter’s life turned around.

Geter said, “It took some time for my friends and co-workers to figure out how to get help and, as an inmate, my options were limited. I had no telephone and there was no Internet then. But the newspaper wrote a very fine article and Suzanne St. Pierre, a 60 Minutes producer, saw it and was intrigued. She sent a reporter down to Dallas to investigate.”

Geter, a news and politics aficionado, was an “avid” 60 Minutes fan. When he heard that the program was coming to interview him, “I knew I had arrived. I had become a human-interest story. I knew once they investigated, I’d be exonerated. I wasn’t nervous about being interviewed by Morley Safer.”

Once the story ran, the program was flooded with letters of outrage. Within weeks, that outcry had forced the government to set Geter free; he was later exonerated.

Today, Geter is a public speaker and educator and is running a new program aimed at parents called Keep Your Children Out of the Jailhouse. He remembers incarceration: “Even to this day, I like my windows to be open,” he said. “I love my freedom.”

Video of Lenell Geter:

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