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Regardless of setbacks and successes, Emily and Liza Geissinger are committed to helping each other find sobriety and happiness.

Emily Geissinger has spent six out of the last 10 years behind bars. She explains her “Misfit” tattoo as a representation of feeling alone or different. (Photo by Maranie Rae Staab/PublicSource)

Emily and Liza Geissinger are sisters. They were born 21 months apart. Together, they endured a difficult childhood, addiction, then jail. Recently, they’d been sharing joy and new aspirations. All of these experiences have strengthened their sisterly bond. To my surprise, even the interview for this chapter of the Voices Unlocked series, they did together, sharing memories, laughs and pain.

Emily has been in and out of jail since she was 13. She is 30 now. She has spent six of the last 10 years of her life at the Allegheny County Jail. Emily’s initial charges in 2008 included possession with intent to deliver and criminal conspiracy. She was charged with attempting to escape a female offenders’ Department of Corrections program in 2012. She had been serving time for violating parole since.

Emily dropped out of school in the eighth grade but has gone on to earn her GED and, most recently, she graduated from a 16-week culinary program with Community Kitchen Pittsburgh. She now cooks at Hello Bistro in the South Side.



Voices Unlocked is a project telling the stories of Pittsburgh-area residents whose life experiences have been shaped by the penal system.


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