May at DeafInPrison.com

Click on the link to view a PDF update on our activities for May.

May at DeafInPrison.com

County Jails vs. Prison from a Paralegal Perspective

I was asked by BitcoDavid to give my impressions of jail and prison as a paralegal. From 1993 to the end of 2006, I have spent a lot of my time either going into a prison or a jail. I hear many confuse the word jail when they mean prison so let me clarify the difference. Simply put, if one is arrested and awaiting trial, is convicted or pleas to a sentence that is less than one year – that person will serve his sentence in a county jail. If after a trial or a plea, and the sentence is a year on up – that person goes to a state prison. Federal sentences are carried out a bit differently – they are mainly all served in a federal prison.

When I was first hired as a paralegal in 1996, it was primarily to be the liaison between jail and the law office. I was already involved in prison ministry and had been inside many prisons by then. Therefore, this new position seemed to fit right in.  Jails are a different animal than prisons. Between the two, just about any inmate will take a prison over a jail. Why?

Jail is a 24-hour confinement in a cell pod area – no place to walk, except for possibly one hour of recreation a day in a small area. A few other activities could be attending a religious service, going to the law library, visiting with legal counsel or reporting to medical – if necessary. In one jail where I visited clients, medium and minimum-security inmates walked to chow. Maximum-security inmates were served at their cells. Cell pods are large enclosures composed of beds and tables, or separate areas consisting of smaller cells around the walls, with tables in the middle. They’re often overflowing, with inmates sleeping on the floor – very close quarters. However, the stress is probably the worst factor. The majority of inmates are awaiting trial. Tensions are high. Mistrust is like nowhere else.  Con games are going on constantly, and some inmates become snitches for the State, hoping it will help them get a better deal. Unfortunately, it often works.

In order to get inside a jail, I needed a permission letter written by the attorney, to a Captain or Sergeant in the Sheriff’s Office who oversees visitations by legal counsel. When I would show up to see a client, and my name checked with date and time entered, I was given a badge to wear while inside. I generally had a one-hour time limit, but if I were to see more than one client, then I had however long it took to complete the visitation. One time I got so busy seeing clients (I had about 6) I didn’t watch the clock, and when I went to leave the normal way, no one was on duty. In fact, I could not see anyone down one hall or another. I felt a little panic as I forgot how to get to Intake, where new arrestees are brought in. Finally, I found Intake and explained why I was inside. Because they had seen my face before, they believed me and we had a good laugh. Maybe if this had happened after 9/11 it would not have been so funny as many rules changed after that.

Before 9/11, in the 1990s, I had a lot of leeway.  At this one jail, there were 5 floors. Each floor had 2 to 3 attorney rooms – mostly glass – where I was locked in with the inmate. Often, those rooms were occupied. No problem! On one particular floor, they had a broom closet with a metal bench type table. Yes, that is where I would go and meet with the client among mops, buckets and sanitizers! Actually, I got the job done very well, and could leave when I wanted to. I almost preferred this room. In the attorney room, I would have to ring a buzzer, and wait for a deputy to open the door so I could leave.

That was another story, waiting on the deputy to open the door – letting me out was not top priority. Several times I would be locked in for quite awhile because, for example, of shift changes. I would much rather been in the broom closet, and able to leave whenever I wanted.

Each jail has a different layout, therefore, it would behoove you to listen to directions thoroughly, the first time – one could get confused with all the hallways. Some used color-coded stripes on walls or floors to different wings. Video cameras were strategically placed.

Like I mentioned earlier, inmates would prefer prison to jail. Where jail is quite confining, prison allows more freedom. One could almost say, prison is like a community environment –everyone makes their own bed and does their own laundry. They have a job to do every day. If not working at a job, inmates can go to classes like GED, or learn a skill. Outside ministry programs like Prison Fellowship and Kairos, [Kairos Prison Ministry – ed.] offer church services. Typically, there will be a law library. Inmates walk to chow, can exercise or join a sports team, go to the canteen and make phone calls. All of this of course is regulated, but from this perspective, there is more of a life.

Then there is the emotional factor. In prison, they know they are there for a while. It could be a little over a year, or for life. Nevertheless, the tension of not knowing the immediate future is gone. They settle in, so to speak, to start a new life. This new life though, offers new challenges – just like in any new neighborhood. Every prison has its gangs, its predators, nice people and bad people.

Well, aren’t they all bad? You would be surprised at how many decent people find that they are suffering the consequences of a bad decision, for whatever reason. Of course, many are actually innocent. That is where I come in – the innocent! It has been my passion all the while, in criminal law, to help free the innocent – to see justice done.

Interview with Mr. Jesse Doiron English Professor and Leader of Inmates Book Club

I interviewed my colleague, Mr. Jesse Doiron who is an English professor at Lamar University in Beaumont, TX. For the past five years, he has led an interesting inmates’ book club. I asked him how he got the club started and how the inmates liked it. Implications for starting such book clubs for deaf inmates are also presented.

Biography of Mr. Jesse Doiron

Instructor of English

Department of English, Modern Languages, and Philosophy

Lamar University

Office O-38 Maes Building

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Jesse Doiron spent 13 years as an educator and consultant in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.  His work experience ranges from the University of California at Berkeley to St. Louis University, from the Spanish High Command School in Madrid to the Saudi Naval Forces School at King Abdulaziz Naval Base in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In 1991, Jesse witnessed the fall of the USSR as a Soros Teaching Fellow in Kiev, Ukraine, where he taught English at Skola #145, a math and physics lyceum. Before that, he was caught up in “Desert Storm” as an instructor for the Institute of Public Administration in Saudi Arabia.

Jesse has served as director of the Lamar Language Institute at Lamar University.  He also wrote and managed the Joint Education Project, a $300,000-plus consortium effort linking Lamar University with the Beaumont Independent School District, the Greater Orange Area Literacy Program, the Port Arthur Literacy Service, and the Beaumont Library System – Literacy Depot.  Jesse is now a full-time instructor in the Department of English, Modern Languages and Philosophy at Lamar University and an adjunct instructor of English for Lamar State College – Port Arthur.

Jesse has taught courses in literature (World, British, and American) as well as courses in creative writing, composition, and English as a Second Language.  In 2008, Jesse developed an on-line freshman composition course which he continues to teach as part of the expanding on-line offerings of Lamar University.  In 2009, Jesse helped develop the Department’s first on-line, dual-credit version of Freshman English Composition.  In 2012, Jesse developed and taught an on-line British literature course for Lamar State College – Port Arthur.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE – RESTORATIVE JUSTICE

Most recently, Jesse has been focused on issues dealing with “Restorative Justice” and the rehabilitation of convicted felons.  In this area, Jesse has worked closely with Bridges to Life, a Christian outreach program that brings victims of violent crime face to face with convicted felons in prison.  He also volunteers with the Houston-based New Leaf prison rehabilitation program.

Jesse is a member of the Jefferson County Coalition for Victims of Crime and has served often as emcee for that group’s Candlelight Vigils as well as the Coalition’s Angel Tree Christmas events.

As a member of the Coalition for Victims of Crime, Jesse regularly volunteers with the Jefferson County Center for Victims Assistance in their training programs for police academy and sheriff academy cadets.

In 2007, Jesse began teaching English courses at state and federal prisons as an adjunct instructor for the Lamar State College, a position he continues to hold. He has taught composition, literature, and creative writing in a variety of prison environments from low-security to maximum-security penal institutions.  In addition to these college courses for inmates, Jesse also volunteers as a facilitator for an inmate book club at a local prison.

In 2008 and 2010, Jesse taught a multi-disciplinary Honors Seminar at Lamar University:

“Victims, Criminals, and Punishment.”  This 15-week seminar included the participation of guest speakers who were part of the criminal justice system, including victims of crime and perpetrators of crime.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS

Jesse received a Soros Teaching Fellowship in 1991 and was awarded an educational travel grant by the International Renaissance Foundation the following year.  He has consulted a number of organizations around the world on educational matters ranging from developing kindergartens in Central Europe to language training of military officers in Spain and Saudi Arabia.

In 2004, Jesse received the Courage Award from the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty the TCADP annual conference in Dallas, Texas.  That same year, he was a recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service in Beaumont, Texas.

In 2007, Governor Rick Perry gave Jesse the Governor’s Award for Restorative Justice.  That same year, Jesse received the Julie and Ben Rogers Community Service Award from Lamar University.

In 2009, Jesse was featured on I Survived, a reality program of the A&E Biography Channel that reports on people who have faced death and lived to tell about it.  In Season Three of the series (Episode 24), Jesse tells of being attacked by two men wielding a three-pound shop hammer.  The savage assault happened in the badlands of north Texas during a freak snow storm in 1983.  Before this program, Jesse’s victimization was featured in three local newspapers — The Beaumont Journal, The Beaumont Enterprise, and The Examiner.

In 2012, Jesse was recognized as Volunteer of the Year by the Bureau of Prisons –

Federal Correctional Complex in Beaumont, Texas for his educational and religious work in their Medium Security Institution.

Interview with Mr. Jesse Doiron

May, 2012

How would you describe your “inmate book club”?

It’s a book club first.  Just as any book club in the “free world” it functions as a social activity through which people who enjoy reading can talk about what it is that they are reading.  The “inmate” part of the “inmate book club” is, of course, intriguing to most people who hear about the group.  For me, it is the only book club with which I have been associated.

In fact, when the prison administration first asked me to facilitate the book club, I called my big sister for advice.  She’s a librarian in the Dallas area.  The best bit she gave me was to let the book club be what it wants to be – don’t try too hard to make it what you want it to be.  She was wise in her warning.

While my book club is significantly different from the ones my sister facilitates as part of her job, it works the same in many ways. We select a book to read.  We read the book.  We talk about the book.  And just like the various book clubs my big sister has organized, mine often gets way off topic in our conversations.

How did you come up with this idea?

The inmates had already been meeting to talk books long before I got involved with them.  I suppose the prison administration wanted to organize their approach so as to better monitor their activities and to better focus their efforts – no one ever really explained what it was that I was supposed to do other than the rather vague concept of “facilitate.”  My first night was awkward because as soon as I walked in, there was an undeserved deference to me as some sort of “book club expert.”  Even after I explained to them that I had never been in a book club, they found it difficult to “suspend disbelief,” as we say in literary analysis.

I became the only “free-world” member of the club.  This distinction brought with it another responsibility that wasn’t clear until the charming educational officer introduced me to the inmates. Her demeanor and that of the inmates told me that I was not just going to talk about books; I was going to somehow represent the books.

How have the inmates responded to you?

I’ve been in the inmate book club for more than five years, now.  This year, the prison complex gave me one of four “Volunteer of the Year” awards.  Many of the inmates I met that first night have been released or transferred.  Over the years, some of the men have seen me gain weight and lose hair.  They have read a hundred books with me.  They have invited their best friends to visit the club, and many of them have joined it.  Every time I leave, they are flipping through a novel, smiling, waving good-bye, and trying to pin me down on a date for the next meeting.

How do you choose the books that the club reads?

Over the years, we have tried a number of systems to select our titles.  None of the methods have ever been bad, some have been chaotic, but most of the time consensus works.

The first year, I received a list of books that the administration had approved for use.  It was a wildly eclectic selection of novels that ranged from sci-fi series to New York Times bestsellers.  There wasn’t any Dickens.  No Hemingway.  Nothing bad.  Nothing old.

Once accepted as part of the club, I found the inmates asking me what I thought they should be reading.  It was the “free-world” mystic acting, as if I should know what was au courant in the world of belle letters.  The inmates and I started drawing up our suggestions for the administration, and, as I said, consensus works.  For us, it was never a problem selecting a title.  The problem was acquiring the title.  Funding is always difficult for this kind of a prison rehabilitation/recreation program.  We were lucky to get three copies of a book to share among us.  The system worked, but it often slowed us down in our reading.

One night – a particularly slow night, since the copies of the book had never arrived – we hit upon the idea of having multiple titles available for our discussion.  That way, if there were any prison glitches in getting a book, we’d always have a couple of fallback novels on hand.  Once we met and everyone just gave individual reports on whatever book he was reading that week.

Sometimes we focus on a genre.  For example, June is juvenile dystopia month for us – inspired by the buzz that The Hunger Games is getting.  The men know that I have kids in elementary and middle school, so they were interested in seeing what it is that young people have in their hands.  Many of the men are fathers, too.  I think this selection will be a great way to connect them with their children over the summer, and share some heavy philosophical ideas.  Even the fellows who don’t have sons or daughters were quite happy to join in on this idea. They all have family connections.  They all have some heavy philosophy hanging on the bars of their cells.  I knew the idea was a good one when I saw them arguing over the three copies of the book that we were allotted.

Do the inmates have preferences for genres – like fiction versus nonfiction?

Yes.  Individuals are individuals in prison or in the free world.  Our book club has rarely selected nonfiction.  The last one I recall was The Story of My Life, by Helen Keller. All of the men read more than I do.  They read everything.  I have learned their individual preferences, and I try to spread the focus so that each man gets a bit of what he most enjoys in literature.  One fellow could pass for a professor of philosophy at any academic conference.  Our youngest member, who taught himself to read in prison, loves anything that has mythology in it – Norse, Roman, German, Hindu – myths.  Many of the inmates are into sci-fi series or fantasy series.  Not many romance novels get suggested, but they do like love stories and family stories.  My western-novel guy got out a few years ago.

How long do your sessions last?

The inmate book club meets in the evenings from 6:00 p.m. to “call back.”  The actual hours depend on the daylight available – a security concern.  Usually we have at least two solid hours together; although, not everyone can make it on time because of prison schedules – feeding, work, recreation, religious services.  The men are not allowed to roam freely around the grounds, so one has to be flexible in starting and finishing a session.  Some months, I get out to the prison three or four times.  Some months, there are lockdowns that prevent our meeting at all.

Do you ever read books that have been adapted for the motion pictures?

Often we purposely select a book that has been made into a movie, or will be made into a movie, with the idea of viewing the film version for comparison.  A bit of self-censorship is needed here, because there are multiple restrictions on showing movies in prisons.  Some inmates have already seen a motion-picture adaptation of a book, and these inmates like to share their views of how successful screenwriters were in adapting the work for the cinema.  These discussions are particularly erudite on the levels of both film and literature.

Can men who have low reading levels participate in the inmate book club?

No inmate is excluded from joining the book club, but there is a territoriality that one can sense.  Book clubs usually are not big.  Usually they are made up of a few people who know one another well and enjoy getting together for other reasons to begin with.  Here, I am talking about a “free-world” book club.  Again, the same holds true in prison.  These men were together before I joined them.  They are the book club, really.  While a few inmates pop in from time to time to visit, the ones who stay seem to have another kind of established relationship with one of the men already in the book club.  That said, the inmates are surprisingly tolerant of those who want to try out the book club.  One year, we had a fellow who rarely read anything that we were discussing.  He came to the meetings, and he often made interesting comments – rarely about the books.  That said, none of the inmates ever suggested to me or to administration that the fellow be excluded from the book club.  And in the discussions, I never felt a need to monitor the inmate’s participation because the other inmates were able to do so with effortless charm.  It worked out well for the non-reader and the readers.

Could your inmate book club be adapted for deaf inmates who typically read below a third-grade level?

My experience in English as a Second Language leads me to answer, emphatically, “Yes.”

The book club is about people and their experiences with books.  A person’s experience can be profound even if the book is simple in structure.  I have seen this in ESL classes here in America and across the globe – Saudi Arabia, Spain, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Republic of Georgia.

As a father, I remember having tearful reactions to the books I read to my children.

Good literature does not necessarily mean literature that is difficult to read.  A good book club does not necessarily mean everyone in it has to read a book that is difficult. Add to the written word the technical opportunities afforded by multimedia presentations, and you can easily unloose a great deal of potential for the non-native speaker or for the hearing-impaired.  Book clubs with enthusiastic participants and skilled facilitators can accomplish much in difficult environments like prisons and with individuals who are challenged socially, culturally, physically, or mentally.

Leonard Mlodinow, a physicist with a knack for psychological observation, has a new book out called Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior. He is not a Freudian at all, but he does note that people often act on impulses that are buried beneath their conscious understanding of situations.  “Blind sight,” for example, is when a damaged brain can still transmit enough peripheral information to allow for a kind of visual interpretation when there should be no capability for vision.

In a similar manner, readers understand much more than they read – sometimes by way of psychological osmosis or subliminal absorption.  Their understanding doesn’t necessarily come across at the conscious level, but there is obvious evidence of some level of comprehension because of the way they participate in discussion of the material.

An idea in a book might slip right by until another fellow mentions it in passing, then the idea bubbles up again and loses its ephemeral quality, becoming instead monumental. Suddenly the overlooked idea is important; the book is understandable.

In the inmate book club, our discussions help us all get our minds around ideas, words, actions, and beliefs.  I have never left the prison without a more intense feeling, if not a better understanding, for what we have discussed that night.  These discussions make the inmate book club invigorating, enjoyable, and inspiring.  The books make it a book club.

Awaiting Trial

Lying on an inch thick mattress, puss running out of his ears, migraine headaches, vomiting chronically and constantly passing out, would accurately describe Felix Garcia’s day-to-day existence at the old Morgan Street Jail in downtown Tampa, Florida. The woefully ill-equipped medical staff struggled to help a new inmate – coming to see them regularly – suffering from Cholesteatoma and Serous Otitis Media.

The former is a type of inner ear cyst, whose symptoms include brain abscess, deafness, dizziness, erosion into the facial nerve causing paralysis and meningitis. The latter is an acute infection and possible rupture of the tympanic membrane.

Image courtesy of http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002045/#adam_001050.disease.symptoms

Day in and day out for 2 straight years, this man – unable to communicate his misery – bided his time in the red brick building, clearly visible from I-275 as the interstate winds through the city. Morgan Street is the oldest of the Tampa jails. Since Felix’s time, two newer and more modern jails have been built in Hillsborough County – the Orient Road Jail and the Falkenburg Road Jail.

Life in jail is common and routine. Clanging alarms and loud horns awaken you at sunup. After a quick and early breakfast, you have an hour of recreation where you can walk around, watch TV, read, play cards, go to the law library on a pass or maybe play basketball. Lunch too, is ahead of time and brief. If you’re fortunate enough to have visitors – and they show up during specified times – you may be able to enjoy a few short moments of respite. Dinner comes too soon in the evening, and the day ends shortly afterwards. Then there’s talk! Jail is one of the noisiest places on Earth. Everything is iron, steel or loud and resonant concrete. There’s a constant din of banging and clanging – and the talk. It’s a steady drum-beating roar of Vox Humana.

Felix didn’t get many visits, Frank did. Inmates are allowed to make collect calls, but Felix couldn’t use a phone. Therefore, he would have a cellmate make his calls for him. Even if a TTY phone had been available to him, Felix had never seen one, and had no idea as to how to use them. If one did exist at Morgan Street, Felix didn’t know it.

After throwing up their hands in frustration, the medical staff opted to send Felix to Tampa General Hospital. The following table shows the severity of his condition.

Admitted Date

Admission Type

Discharge Date

10/19/81

Outpatient

10/19/81

10/26/81

Outpatient

10/26/81

11/19/81

Outpatient

11/19/81

11/25/81

Emergency

11/25/81

04/22/82

Outpatient

04/22/82

04/29/82

Outpatient

04/29/82

05/06/82

Outpatient

05/06/82

05/16/82

Inpatient

06/08/82

06/11/82

Outpatient

06/11/82

06/15/82

Outpatient

06/15/82

06/29/82

Outpatient

06/29/82

07/27/82

Outpatient

07/27/82

08/02/82

Outpatient

08/02/82

08/16/82

Outpatient

08/16/82

08/19/82

Outpatient

08/19/82

08/24/82

Outpatient

08/24/82

08/30/82

Outpatient

08/30/82

09/14/82

Outpatient

09/14/82

02/28/83

Inpatient

03/04/83

03/07/83

Inpatient

03/21/83

08/09/83

Outpatient

08/09/83

Felix spoke to me of being in a “fog,” not only during the trial, but also for years before he was arrested. He had a final operation, a couple of years into his prison sentence, which cleared up the fog, but the migraines, nausea and passing out still occur.

Awaiting Trial

For the updated version of this post, please go to

http://deafinprison.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/awaiting-trial-3/

Sexual Victimization Reported by Former State Prisoners, 2008

svrfsp08.pdf (application/pdf Object).

Waiting for Trial

For an updated version of this post, please go to

http://deafinprison.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/awaiting-trial-3/

 

Awaiting Trial

For an updated version of this post, please go to

http://deafinprison.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/awaiting-trial-3/

bitcodavid:

Due to the correlation between Deaf inmates and mentally ill inmates, I felt this excellent article from PrisonMovement’s Weblog was appropriate to share with our readers.

–BitcoDavid

Originally posted on Prison Reform Movement's Weblog:

Solitary confinement

Solitary confinement (Photo credit: Chris.Gray)

By REMA RAHMAN, Associated Press

Troy Anderson is a mentally ill inmate in isolation at the Colorado State Penitentiary, deemed for more than a decade too dangerous to be among other offenders.

His lawyers argue, however, that prolonged solitary confinement is contributing to a vicious cycle, making his psychiatric conditions worse and resulting in misbehavior that warrants further punishment.

Prison officials defend the practice, saying administrative segregation, which can include up to 23 hours a day alone in a concrete cell, is a fundamental part of security.

Art Leonardo, executive director of the North American Association of Wardens and Superintendents, says keeping prisoners away from the general population is a way to “keep them from being harmed.”

But prisoners’ rights advocates around the nation say putting mentally ill inmates in long-term solitary confinement amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. In some states, activists…

View original 550 more words

A Follow-up to My Last Inmate Letter

[I received another letter from the deaf inmate in CA in response to my letter. His first letter is shown below and/or under inmate letters tab. I have typed pertinent parts, and in clearer understanding, as most of it is a repeat of his first letter but I believe it shows what a little kindness can do for an inmate who has had no contact with society in his 25 years of incarceration. He still wishes to remain anonymous due to fears of retribution and harm but if you, the reader, would like to pass on a word of encouragement to give him hope, please leave a comment and I will print it and send it to him. This also applies to all the letters I have received that have been passed on to BitcoDavid.

--Pat]

_______________________________

4-2-2012                                                                                                                                                                                 ******* **** ******

*******-Lower

***** ****** ****

******. CA *****

Dear Ms. Pat Bliss,

After all these years with no contact or communication, your letter was pure joy. I wrote the attorney lady address that you sent me, I took the time and explained all these years of incarceration of abuse and rapes: who – what – when. But because officers read our mail, unless it is legal mail, I ask Ms. Attorney *** to inform you of my condition and circumstances. I fear for my life constantly from officers and inmates which the officers use against other inmates….

I’ve live in loneliness, no love and a broken heart for 55 years. Ms. Pat…there are 2 laws and rules: black and white, the officers urge racism and hate and violence…if you get this letter I’m telling you I don’t want to die in prison…from birth till this day, my life has been lonely and empty and for 25 years hell but thanks to you, you have given me a small light of hope.

But at my age I wonder who would want to deal with a black, deaf, inmate even out in the world? I’m emotionally damaged and scared of people.

I’m so low emotionally, I don’t expect anything, no happiness. I have never loved or never had love, no compassion, no togetherness, no family, no friends and now I’m completely deaf. Pray for me and may God Bless you. Thanks. ****** *******.

____________________________________

[For the public’s information, I have the ball rolling to try to get this man help. Since mail takes so long, I have no other feedback to share at this time.]

A Radio for the Deaf

[It's a rare pleasure to get some good news from a Deaf prisoner, and this letter is one example. As I write Felix Garcia's story, I thought I would like to share this letter from him, with you - our readers.

Pat Bliss]

Image Courtesy Pat Bliss

4-12-11

Ms. Patricia Bliss

Hello Mom! :) Yesterday they called me to the property room and gave me my special radio and a letter from you. It was the day before yesterday that I called you on the phone. Wow Mom. The radio works great with this new hearing aid. Right now I have several Christian stations in preset. I have 88.9, 94.5, 91.5 and 89.7. And they’re great. I sing in Sign language. I can’t understand all the words but Mom this is great. I love it so much. It’s the hearing aids that made the difference. I can see now with a very strong set of hearing aids I can do almost anything. I let all the other Deaf try out the system using my new hearing aid and they were shocked on how strong this new hearing aid is. The radio does not work on any of their hearing aids except for one guy which shocked me also. I still have my old hearing aid and it works with that one but nothing like this new one. It still does not work with the T.V. and that’s because there is something wrong with the T.V. or the box but I get Christian stations and Christian songs. Yeah!!!!! :)

This morning I did a Bible study at 5 in the morning on 88.9 called Weapon of Praise, Psalm 9:1-3 and 2 chronicles 20:1-22. It was great. The Lord has truly blessed me this day. What other Christian music can I get? Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, :)

Oh, I like this song that’s on now. It’s called “When I’m Alone with You.” {Calling me away when I’m alone with you – your glory shines, when I’m running again – all I have is you – you break this heart of stone}.

Image courtesy Pat Bliss

God, Mom. It feels so good to hear Christian music again. I love God so much. It’s my way of singing to Him. I cry out in songs with Signing. He loves us Mom, God is good. He really watches out for us. I just want to be around Him so much. Music, music, music. :) I’m so happy. This morning I prayed – for Jesus to wrap me up in this music and hide me. I slept so good last night.

He will make all things new, as we wait, as we watch, come because he is calling you. Just now I looked at the guy and said wake up. God loves you, and tomorrow is not promised, don’t miss out on the truth. Don’t let it pass you by. You may not get another chance. From the beginning of time, God has reigned and there is no other. Don’t be fooled by a false God. You owe it to yourself. Jesus is the only way. Be a rising star on the winning team. Look around you at this horrible place. Now look out that window at God’s creation, a lizard, a butterfly, the trees and the sky. God is good – all the time.

Happy Mother’s Day

Mom

I love you :)

Your Son

[Letter transcribed by BitcoDavid]

Our 51st Post: A NYT Video

Prison Passion Play

Inmate Letter

[The following was posted by Pat Bliss, and transcribed in Word format by me. It is a very tough read, as I tried to avoid editing as much as possible. I wanted it to be in the original voice, but did need to make some changes in grammar or spelling, only to make it readable. I strongly encourage you, however, to give it a read. It is a profoundly disturbing and heart rending work.

BitcoDavid]

The following was written to me by an inmate. It is very difficult to read, due to the inmate’s educational status. BitcoDavid did the transcription – as best he could -  and tried to correct for spelling and grammar where it would make the letter easier for our readers to understand, while at the same time trying not to alter the inmates original work.

Image courtesy http://hiphoprepublican.com/opinion/2010/07/12/vanessa-jean-louis- a-conservative-perspective-on-former-inmate-re-entry/

4-11-2012                                                                              xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Wednesday                                                                            xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx-Low

Do not print my name. I                                                  xxxxx P.O. Box xxxxxxxxx

Fear “ retaliation of officers                                           xxxxx CA xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I’m Deaf and fear for my life, in cells with other Inmates, in dorms and around officers. I’ve been beaten and raped many time’s over 25 years.

Mrs. Pat Bliss,

I’m xxxx xxxx I’m now incarcerated since 1988. I was born with very bad hearing, in 1958, but at that time of my life, I was born in an orphanage by a teen-orphan mother. I’m Black, and who my parents was, I’ve never known, and in 1958, no one cared about a Black-Deaf-orphan.

I learned how to adjust, and read lips. I only made it to the 9th grade in school, since I couldn’t hear well. I avoided people most of my life

I learned how to do plumbing and janitorial work to survive. This is my first time in prison. Over time now in prison, I’ve lost my hearing completely. I was wearing hearing aids – then I was given an amplifier, but now 2012 neither hearing aids or amplifiers do not help.

When I was in court, I told my attorney – I couldn’t hear & I didn’t understand. He never spoke up for me, so I wrote a note to the judge.

I wrote a note to the judge stating I was hard of hearing and what I had did concerning the case + how long I had known the defendant + that I needed help communicating. But the judge had my note ordered sealed and she never read it to the court. She read the note, but not to the court.

I was on drugs and the women I dealt with was on drugs. The judge and DA use my statement as a confession and sent me to prison. I was with prostitutes and street people. Some I was having sex with for years. Most of the women was Deaf or disabled In some form or another. I went to court and told the truth in a note and the court used it against me. So, I got charged with rape. Since being in prison, I’ve been on psych-medication off and on. I’ve been beat and raped many times. Officers always put me in situation where I will be beat and raped and my stuff taken.

I was at xxxxxxx – xxxxx – xxxx and was beat daily by officers and when I complain and wrote 602-appeals they put me in ad-seg – then transfer me to xxxx – state prison – where things got worse. I wrote the federal court in xxxx County. I got beat and transferred and put back on psych-medication in 2005, 2006. I 602 appeal being raped in cells.

In 2005 and 2006, the officers put me on a special – van – transferring me to xxxx xxxx. There my counselor – a lady – received notes from other prison staff and she changed my case factors – from rape – to – “child abuse,” then refused to even see me – or help me – so, I wrote the courts to get legal papers stating this was not true. I was beat and put in a cell with another inmate who rape me and officers refuse to help me – or move me to another cell.

I wrote a 602 appeal stating I’m deaf and being raped and abused and my things stolen – xxxx xxxx and now here at xxxx xxxx they refuse to help me or protect me. I’ve ask doctors and custody and counselors and psych doctors to give me a single cell for safety concerns and mental help. They all say no. I stated A.D.A. regulation 1630-2-R the risk of direct threat – mental harm and physically harm and the imminence of harm.

They all refuse to help.

I’m completely ignored. I’m Black and in prison for a rape I did not do and I’m Deaf. Now. I do not trust anyone and I do not talk to anyone and I never leave my cell. I’m scared to sleep in the cell with inmates – I’m scared around people. If I complain – or write a 602 appeal I will be beat and transferred again.

I’ve seen my c-file and medical files, and ther is statements in both concerning me and things I’ve suppose to have said – to people – staff and doctors and officers that I’ve never seen and never talk to.

I was put in A.S.L. Sign language school, but I was too scared and nervous around the crowd of inmates at class. I couldn’t set still.

So, I stop going. I do know and understand Sign language and I do use it and read lips and notes to communicate. If I’m forced to talk, I’ve ask for an interpreter many times at the doctor’s offices and in groups. But, no one ever come to help. I do not know what else was wrote in my charts lately, but no staff – doctor – officer – nurse – interpreter will help and the E.E.N.T. ear specialist stated and noted and I have legal documents saying I’m legally Deaf. I learn when very young how to read lips and watch people’s movements – first before learning Sign language. So, officers think I can hear them and officers send inmates to talk with me. Then the inmate will state the same to help officers. In prison, staff and doctors and officers only write what will benefit them and they only help inmates that will help them and say what they want. I learn this in my 25 years of incarceration. Facts.

I’m now in a program called E.O.P. Psych, which custody and doctors can use to disclaim anything I file against them.

Yes, I’m very depressed and I’m very paranoid around people and I don not trust anyone. The doctor’s work with custody and officers and keep me on medication – drugged up.

I’m in cells with inmates with serious mental problems. They abuse me and fight me and take my stuff. I told the doctors this, but even their boss said he cannot help me. I told the unit officers and they said for me to fight back or if someone gets hurt then they will separate us and put me in another cell. I cannot hear and I cannot speak well and I cannot yell for help.

I need a single cell, but they say no. Unless I kill my cellie – or he kills me. They then will take me to court and give me  more time – or bury me somewhere.

I was not exam until 1995 by prison doctors, but nothing was wrote – or noted. “1845 –legally” until 2006 at xxxx xxxx.

From all the transfers and ad-seg trips, I do not have anymore legal papers – lost.

I do not have any disciplinary “problems” but I’ve been to the hole and transferred many times. On legal papers in prison everything looks great, but in reality they do nothing to help of protect. I’m Black and in prison and Deaf and with no family ever.

I was 29 or 30 when I came to prison. Now I’m 55 years old – on August, 2012 – I’ll be 56 years old.

After dealing with the foster home – state people and society and going deaf and the state courts and state attorney and prison staff and doctors and officers and inmates, now I have serious emotional and mental problems. I don’t sleep and I don’t eat and I do not talk to anyone ever. I pray, but God gave up on me when I was born.

I’ve been lied to and [illeg.] on by doctors – pastors – officers – counselors – inmates. The people and women I thought was my friends came to court and testified against me to save themselves.

I pray only for death now.

You are my last hope of asking for help. If you cannot help me get a single cell and protection until I parole – 2014 – if they let me parole – I will give up completely.

Knowing the prison system you might not ever get this letter or you might not want to help a Black Deaf inmate either.

For 25 years I’ve not had any outside contact and no help – no visits – no mail – no phone calls – not even TTY phone. I’m at the end of my rope.

I’ll end here – hopefully waiting.

xxxx xxxx xxxx

Help if willing – or – able.

The Addition of “Bliss -2″

Since this site was launched, I’ve been writing – on my page – about the tragic story of Felix Garcia. This innocent Deaf man has been behind bars for some 30 years now, for a crime he didn’t commit.

Due to the fact that I’m writing this story in chapters, and it’s becoming quite long, David has given me an extra page. You can find the newest additions to the story by looking in the right hand column, on the home page scroll, and clicking on “Bliss-2

Behavioral Control

Click this thumbnail to view post

Deaf Prisoners – When Deaf People Are in Prison

Image courtesy of Catboxx (http://catboxx.blogspot.com/2010/05/parchman-farm.html). One of my favorite images of the old Parchman Farm chain gang.

The other day, I posted the DOJ report on prison populations as of Mid-year 2011. I did so, in an effort to respond to a question I was asked by a reader. Quite simply, how many Deaf inmates are there, in American prisons. In numerous searches, including having read the above report, I have not yet been able to find a reliable answer to that question.

One answer bothered me, however. On Yahoo answers, one respondent claimed that Deaf inmates are not sent to conventional prisons, but rather to special halfway houses or dorm facilities. Needless to say, anyone who reads DeafInPrison.com knows this is – sadly – just not true.

This is an article I found on About.com.

Deaf Prisoners – When Deaf People Are in Prison.

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