For most convicted felons a second chance means nothing to them as soon as they get out they commit a crime that land them right back in jail.
For three time convicted murder a second chance at life means everything to him.
Today was a day with very high anticipation as there was a guest speaker for my one class. That speaker is Gerald T Balone who on April 24, 1973 killed three people in the process of committing a burglary.
It started earlier that day as Balone entered a restaurant where a group of people that he didn’t recognize was eating. Upon entering Balone sat down and asked what they were looking at. That triggered what would happen later as the group started to beat Balone up, which he somehow Balone escaped.and
Balone went back to his fellow Savage gang members to go look for these men to get payback. After looking for several hours Balone and another man decided to go steal a valuable coin collection as they thought the members of the house where away. That way they would have more money to continue their search.
In the process of the burglary Balone and his accomplise realized that the occupants of the home were not gone. So, Balone killed the two people and when leaving the house another person entered the house after they heard the noise, who they also killed.
Shortly after that they heard the police coming and hid the guns and coins thinking there were no other witnesses. However, after being in custody only for a short time a witness came out of a house across the street and identified the two men.
Balone was sentenced to jail for 50 years to life, but eventually had that knocked down to 25 years to life by law changes.
While in prison Balone was one of the most disruptive people in the system to the point that he was transferred to a new prison with 24 hour supervision. The only way out of the unit was through enrollment of education classes and programs.
Balone enrolled thinking that he would just use it to fool them into releasing him, but in the process he discovered something.
“I realized that education opened up a lot of opportunities,” Balone said.
Balone would then go on to obtain two Masters Degrees in Community Health Administration and Urban Ministry.
Eventually, a Domincan nun started to write to Balone and from there that to be truly free of his anger he had to learn forgiveness. He realized that after he learned that an psychological evaluation stating that he was retarded was incorrect. Balone the retard excuse for everything and when that disappeared he realized that everything that has happened in his life was his fault.
Balone became eligible for parole in 1995, but due to the things that he did in prison, like killing other inmates, pushed off his ability to be paroled.
He finally caught a break when Eliot Spitzer became governor as Spitzer decided to parole inmates that shouldn’t really be in there as a way to save money. Due to this Balone was finally paroled in 2007 after 37.5 years in prison.
Balone relizes that one little mistake will land him back in jail.
“I have 29 conditions to my parole and if I violate even one of them I will land back in jail without ever getting parole again,” Balone said. “Due to this I approach everything carefully like somone is watching me.”
As a way to redeem himself for what he has done Balone speaks to whoever will listen him. The reason being to get out his message to everyone that crime isn’t the way to go.
Obviously, Balone cannot leave Erie County without approlval, but thanks to Skype his message is heard around the world.
“Thanks to Skpye I have to talked to people in Africa, Europe and around the globe.”
Balone has proven in his three years on parole that he has changed his as he stated himself parole officers are more worried about convicted felons that have been recently paroled. The reason being that the period of time that a paroled convicted felons will commit another crime is right after they been paroled. The proof of that is the frrequency of inspections as just after a convicted felon is released their place of residence in inspected every week and as time goes on the length of time in between each grows.
In the end, hopefully someone within the government will realize that Balone is a huge asset that would make a huge difference in communities and prison systems across the globe.