July at DeafInPrison.com

Here’s the monthly update for July. It’s been a busy but rewarding month, and I hope you enjoy this roundup. Click on the link below, to open the PDF file.

July at DeafInPrison

Felix in His Own Words Part 4 – End of Disc 1

This is the fourth video in our series of interviews with Felix Garcia – an innocent Deaf man who has served 30+ years for a crime he didn’t commit. In this particular installment, there were portions where 2 or more individuals were speaking at the same time. In those cases, I tried to put them both on the same caption line – delineated by initials.

Here’s the embedded video:

And here’s the PDF Transcript:

Felix transcript 4

Felix Garcia Interview Part 3

This is part 3 in our series, “Felix Garcia in His Own Words.” It’s already captioned and ready for your viewing. For those of you who enjoy a written transcript, please click the link below the video for a PDF. Part 4 – the end of Disc 1 – is being interpreted now, and will be ready next week.

Felix Garcia Interview Part 3 Transcript

Out of Prison, Trailing Demons – From BendBulletin.com

This picture moved me, so I used it in a previous post (properly cited and linked – of course). I recently had reason to go back to the original article in which it was published, and decided it rated a reblog here, on DeafInPrison.com. So, for your enjoyment and edification…


Private Prison Company May Take Over Virginia Sex Offender Center

Private Prison Virginia Sex Offender

This is reblogged from the Huffington Post. Please click on the link below to view.

Private Prison Company May Take Over Virginia Sex Offender Center.

Felix Part II is Now Captioned

The captioning is now complete on the 2nd installment of the video series “Felix Garcia in his Own Words.”


The 3rd installment has been interpreted and will be posted with captions and a PDF transcript within a couple of days.

SuperMax: The Faces of a Prison’s Mentally Ill – Reblogged From PrisonMovement’s Weblog

We have nothing but respect for PrisonMovement’s Weblog. Although this story is now, almost a month old, I wanted very much to post it. Here’s the link.


Inmate Letter Dated July 1st 2012

I received a letter for the first time from another Deaf inmate in a Florida prison. As usual, his name, locations and identification  will not be revealed. I am leaving out, as he requested, any mention or description of personal family, business and actions. I also have had to type it out as the printing is hard to understand if letter was scanned. This is not a letter of abuse as we have seen posted before but is quite different in that this inmate is still struggling with his deafness, like trying to use a TTY phone and communicating with the hearing. I’m typing it verbatim (misspelling included).

July 1, 2012

Dear Patricia,

Hi, I do hope things are going well for you. *** gave me your name and address. He told me you were interested in the trails that the deaf and hearing impaired go through in the judicial and D.O.C. prison system. First of all “Pat” if you don’t mind, I feel I have to apologize for my handwriting. I am ‘all’ left handed and as a 16 year old I was pinned between a truck and block wall. So I have some permanent damage in my left arm.

I don’t really know if I was born with my hearing problem. As a young child I never knew that I had a hearing problem, because I didn’t know. Maybe I may of thought that I had a problem behaving. [He was telling of being reprimanded because he didn't hear something.] I think it was then when I started setting in the corner of a room and paying attention to every one around me. Constantly looking to see if I was being spoken to. I had a very hard time in school. I was assigned to a speech therapist. This helped me alot in speaking and to keep my voice low. I was always getting into trouble from being way too loud.

[Here he describes his family businesses and the extreme noise.] I didn’t think it mattered my hearing was already almost gone. My first year in prison in*** is when I came to the conclusion that my old ways of hearing wasn’t making it. So I started the process of seeking help.

I seen a audiolgist for an evaluation, this lady was very good at what she did. She discovered that I could and was lip reading her, so she put me in the booth and pulled a blind over the windo. “I never know that I could.” After the exam she told me that, quote “I don’t normally do this but you have a considerable hearing loss and I am going to put you in for two over the ear hearing aids. I will fit you for the left ear now bing that is the ear with the most hearing loss. I only received one from D.O.C. After three years D.O.C. would let me go through the process again of replacing a hearing aid or get a new one. So I got one for my right ear. I have 10% hearing in left ear and 28% in the right ear.

“I tell you mam after 40 years of not hearing. With my hearing aids on “in here” in a crowded day room I find that normal is extremely loud and at time obnoxious. More and more I catch myself turning my aids off and backing myself against a wall or corner. I don’t know if I’ll ever get use to them. Till ** spoke with me about you I never really gave my hearing disability very much thought, pertaining to the court system. Since them I have been thinking about it.

I do see now that in many instances I did not hear what was being told or directed to me. Now that I look back, not only being ignorant of the law. I had a whole lot of blind “faith” in the judicial system and my public defender. I actually see my attorney shaking his head yes or no and I just thought that he knew best. Most of these times were during a bench meeting, collogue, or proffer. These ocured with both attorneys and the judge.

It’s been all coming back. I can picture the judge asking me “do you understand and agree with what has been told to you?” I remember my attorney telling me to just say yes your honor I understand. I look over to my defender and there he is shaking his head yes or no. I honestly thought that I had to agree with my lawer and what he said. Wow I feel like a blooming idiot for not knowing. During a week of trail and many of other orders and hearings I hardly heard anything but confusion.


I have been having a problem trying to get through to my family on the T.T.Y phone for the deaf and hearing impaired. I can’t seem to get through to the Florida relay operator. It’s been a while since I have asked the sarg. to put a workorder in on it to fix it. I will as the assistant warden of programs if he would look into it for me.

I do have a built-in telecoil in one of my hearing aids. This telecoil is designed to pick up the signal from the telephone only. But it is broke and D.O.C. will not pay for the option any more. I can hear my partys on the regular phone if I turn it up all the way and there is no one on the other phone.

I received a “D.R.” after nine years of being clean of any infraction on my record. The D.R. was for disobeying a verbal order. It was so confusing at that time. I was road beaten and had just gotten off the “cattle car”. But from seeing an audiolgist to have my one hearing aid fixed or replaced. So at that time I didn’t have this crucial stepping stone. So the commands spoken by officers now are lost in to a sea of garble. I was so confused at this time I had no hearing aids. Didn’t understand any communications when being interrigated during my brief encounter. I only heard mumblings and inappropriate degrading remarks. Which I refrain from quoting. This all came about during the inmate prossesing circus. I was trying to hear and follow orders being screemed out from “many” sources. The D.R.stood because the sarg. Lied on the D.R. and stated that I said that I heard the verbal order. Five inmates signed whitness statements saying thay didn’t hear no such order, how could he have heard it. So I got 30 days confinement. Before my time was up I got shiped as a confinement inmate back to *** for two surgeries.

I completed the America sign language class. And now I am an active facilitator for the class. I help the people who need a lot of help.

I have run into a lot of times misunderstanding words, getting them twisted around. Lately have been trying to stay to myself and God to keep out of trouble.

Well Pat I do have to apologize for taking so long in writing to you. You gave me a lot to think about, even though you haven’t written to me. “I would like some kind of response if you choose.”  Thank you.

*****   ******

Yay! Captions!

Our first installment in the ground-breaking video series, “Felix in His Own Words,” is now – finally – captioned for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Although the video is in the same location as before – on our scroll page – I have included the link, here.


Please note: On the right hand side of the control bar, you will find a button that allows for full screen viewing. If you view this video in the embedded mode – not full screen – you will need to move your mouse off the page. That will cause the control bar to disappear, allowing you to read the captions.

My thanks go out to Talila Lewis of H.E.A.R.D. for her efforts in convincing me of the necessity of this, and to NCAM for explaining the technical ins and outs. Above all, my special thanks go out to ME, who’s bleeding fingers and bleary eyes attest to how labor intensive and difficult a chore this is.

Although there are numerous turnkey solutions available, I found none of them to be satisfactory, and I ended up having to do it all manually, in the editing suite.

The second installment will be ready in a couple of days, and the upcoming third installment is at the interpreter’s, getting cooked. It – and all our future videos – will be captioned. A site dedicated to the well being of the Deaf needs to provide information that is accessible to the Deaf.

As to the written transcriptions – they will still be available, but in linked PDF format.

In the meantime, please enjoy “Felix in His Own Words – Part I” in all its captioned glory.


TSA Agents Laugh at Deaf Man – Reblogged from InfoWars.com

TSA agents at the Louisville, Kentucky airport laughed at a deaf man, called him “f***ing deafie,” and then stole his candy – another perfect example of why this loathsome federal agency needs to be abolished immediately.

Read more:


Four Reblogs

Image: DeafInPrison.com

The Felix Interview series is really something that you need to see. Although it’s only been available to us for a few weeks, it is the culmination of several years of work by James Ridgeway and Pat Bliss.

In fact, Felix’s prison interview is a monumental labor. Technically, it has involved video editing and compression, cross-country file sharing, a Sign language interpreter, audio editing, mixing and post production – as well as the creation and coding of the transcripts. During the course of this week, I will be adding captions for our Deaf and HOH readers – and the remaining 6 installments will all be captioned.

We’re all working our :)s off, but believe me – it’s well worth it. This might well be the best thing we’ve ever presented on DeafInPrison.com.

In the meantime however, we still have other things we need to post. Here are 4 articles that have come to my attention over the past few days.


This is an article published by PrisonMovement’s Weblog – taken from the Washington Post – about solitary confinement. DeafInPrison is very much concerned with solitary confinement due to the parallels between this horrific and draconian punishment, and the plight of Deaf inmates. Deaf inmates are often housed in environments where there are no other Deaf, and where the guards and staff are not trained in how to communicate with the Deaf. This is in essence a form of solitary confinement within the crowded general population.

Furthermore, since the behavior of a Deaf inmate – who is unable to understand the rules – is viewed as disobedience, they are often placed in actual physical solitary confinement. Many have been thus confined for years and even decades.


This is a reader’s letter and comments to another WaPo article on solitary confinement.


Throughout the Blogosphere, there are numerous sites that deal with the Justice system and Penology in the U.S. and around the World. PrisonMovement’s Weblog is one of the best. This story is a call to action for a young woman, Sara Kruzan. Sara was sold into sexual slavery as a minor, and eventually won her freedom by killing her pimp. She has been in prison for the crime, for 18 years now.

Links are provided in the article, as well as a template letter and some other hints and tips for what you can do to help this victim of a broken judicial system.


This is an op-ed, also from the Washington Post. It discusses the moral question of life without parole sentencing for juvenile offenders.

Well, that’s pretty much what I’ve got for you for today. Please remember to check out our video series of Felix Garcia in his prison interview. These are powerful and disturbing pieces, and they represent the hard work and level of commitment of all those involved with DeafInPrison.com.

Felix in His Own Words Part 2

This is the 2nd installment in our series of interviews with Felix Garcia. Jim Ridgeway and Pat Bliss did the interview. Mr. Ridgeway owns the copyright. Again, our wonderful interpreter set voice to Felix’s powerful words, and I did the tech work involved in synching and mixing the audio and creating the transcript.

This video cannot be reblogged, shared or embedded, but you are welcome to share the link back to here.

Transcript is as follows:

FG: I was scared. There was 5 or 6 officers, surrounding me. I think they came to hurt me. I’m thinking – wow, man! Where am I going to go? How am I going to go? At the other camp, when you were Deaf alone – person – you can’t help yourself. And I was scared.

I had just got a letter from my sister, and she was balling me out, and talking, and I didn’t understand – and I was scared.

I got the sheet. And I was swinging. And I’m thinking – I don’t want to do this – but I couldn’t control myself. I know I need help. I’d gone to the psychiatrist. They don’t help you. They do nothing.

And I’m swinging and swinging. And I’m thinking – no… no… not me. I want to get down. And the officer came – there’s 2 officers. And they stood there watching me. Just watching me. I was stuck. I couldn’t get down. And I passed out. And then the next day, I knew it. I knew I had fallen. I hit my head.

The officer was standing there laughing – ha, ha, ha. And I was scared. I was crying. And I didn’t know where to go, so I dove under the bed. And I was trying to hide.

The officer opened the door. He grabbed my legs, and he drug me out. He pulled me out and he dragged me to another room. He closed the door. It was a smaller room. And a prisoner was there. One that knew some sign. They took my hearing aids and my glasses. I couldn’t see. Nothing. And they’re talking, and yelling, and scolding me. They took my clothes – they left me in there 6 days. I was naked.

And finally, 6 or 7 days later, they took me to the lake. The lake’s very, very nice. There’s a doctor there – a psychologist, and he said – you have a lot of problems. They gave me an interpreter. Finally, for the first time. An interpreter.

We talked, and talked, and talked, and he said – I understand. He told me – you’re going to go to a camp with other deaf people. [clapping] And I thought – oh thank God, thank God.

But I didn’t go. They put me on a bus. They took me to the dorm – here. No phone, no interpreter – nothing. It was hard. Really hard. And then finally, the new assistant Warden came. A very, very nice one. He tried to help me. He set up the phone for the Deaf. He did it.

Now, the assistant Warden – Specs. His name is Specs. Ugh. Ugh. He’s against Deaf people. He’s against us.

PB: The assistant warden is? The assistant Warden is against you.

JR: Really?

The assistant Warden is against the Deaf.

Wait. Did he say that one of the guards pushed him into killing himself?

Well, you were saying that a woman guard encouraged you to try and commit suicide?

No. It wasn’t a guard. It was a nurse. A nurse, at the [Medicine] Correctional. She brought a sheet. And they put me in a room with the sheet, and they said it’s better for you – to hang yourself, because when we come back, we’re going to kick you right out. And they pulled the can of mace out, and they pulled on it. They pulled on it. And so then – we got your report.

They pulled a what?

He pulled the… you know, on the mace can? A can of mace? It has a security lock… he break it – he broke it. He pulled on it.



Yes. And he pulled on that.

Oh, he pulled on that.

He pulled on that. It’s a can of mace. It’s mace. I was in the room. And I know he was going to spray it. It can hurt you.

All because I wanted a battery for my hearing aid. A battery for my hearing aid! All because of that!

And what happened? He’s put in solitary?

They put you in a room for 6 days, and without clothes on?

Yes. With nothing. Nothing.

They did that to Felix in the County jail – when he was in there.

What about food. Did you get food?

Did they bring you your meals?

Yes. Sometimes. Once a day. It would depend on who’s watching. If… if important people were watching? Oh yes. They’d come, and be friendly, and smile, and say – how are you today? – and bring you your meal… but how are the Deaf people supposed… where’s the support? I have to help myself. You can’t help yourself.

With other Deaf people you have an interpreter. Here, at this camp – they have a nurse… that knows Sign language. And they have an officer that knows Sign language. They refuse to let them help me. They refuse.

Yeah. Yeah. They refuse to let the nurse and the officer help me. And they both know Sign language. Both of them know Sign language.

They both can do that, and they won’t do it?

No. They will. But the people here refuse to let them help me.

…refuse to help you. Even though they can? Even though they can sign – they refuse to help you.

Yes, they can sign good.

They want to help me.

They want to help you – but they’re told not to?

Yes! That’s right! Right!

These are other Deaf prisoners?

Who Signs? Other Deaf prisoners or who?

For me?

No. Who is the one that signs?

For me? Nobody.

The people that can sign? Are they officers?

Yes, there’s one officer and one nurse.

And they both can sign

Oh yes! Beautifully! Beautifully!

And they won’t let them help you?

No. I don’t know why. The rules say they must give me an interpreter. For medical.

4/12 is when I arrived here, and this hearing aid was broken. And I tried to get it fixed. They refused to fix it. They refused to fix it.

Wait. What’s he saying? What are you saying?

What are you not fixing?

My hearing aid on this side.

They refused?

They refused. They refused to fix it for me. My hearing aid. And I went into medical…

Your hearing aid, you’re talking about?


Your right hearing aid.

Yes. This one – the left.

but they refuse to fix it.

That’s right. They refused.

O.K. Tell me something, Felix. Have those hearing aids helped a lot?

O.K. If I’m out on the street, I don’t use my hearing aid. It doesn’t help me. In prison? Oh, you must have something. To protect yourself. The door – when I’m in the room – a two-man room. It’s best for Deaf people. Do you know why? Because the door locks. And the other prisoners can’t get at you. When the door opens… I sleep with my head on the wall. Because it’s hard for me. But I sleep with my head on the wall.

So you can hear the door

I feel it. And I jump up. I have to protect myself.

But it doesn’t ever help you understand words.

No. No, it’s just to help me protect myself.

This door? This is a different kind of cell door?

The cell door

But it’s like what we’d think of as a regular cell door?

It’s an electrical door. It slides open.

It’s like this kind of door.

No. It’s a sliding door.

Yes. Sliding door. It’s an electrical door. It slides.

Is there a window?

No, there’s no window. It’s solid. You can’t see in. If somebody’s coming in… and they want to try to hurt me… they can hurt me.

Officers never walk around. Never. You’re alone. You’re alone. All you have is yourself.

Now, we’re getting back to that. So now, the door itself, has no window?

It has a little window. A little strip of a window.

So an officer can see in.

No they can’t.

They can’t see in?

No. No they can’t. No, nope. Uh,huh. It’s all scratched up. They do that. The other prisoners. Because people like me – they’re Deaf. They can’t hear. They can’t talk. They can’t see. We’re victims. We’re the victims. They do that. They know that.

How do I say this? People like me… I fight for Deaf people. I try to help them. I go to church with them. I teach them about God. And I write a grievance. I learned over the years to go ahead and grieve – and write it down. To help ourselves. And I show other Deaf people – I say you have to do the grievance the right way. And they see me doing that, and they say – no – and they take me away.

It’s like solitary.

It’s just like solitary.

Your room is solitary.

Oh, yes.

Well, it’s not designated solitary confinement…

It’s open population. But the people in my dorm… they’re H-04s and H-05s. They’re the worst of the worst. Because of my charge. They put me with them. Before, I was in the G-dorm. It was an open dorm, and the officer could see everyone. It was really nice for me. The people couldn’t hurt me. The officer could watch everyone. But now. I’m in a 2-man room. The officer can’t see in. That’s why it’s hard.

But you do not live in a 2-man room.



This thing he’s describing – that was before.

Well, if I’m wrong – tell me. But what you’re describing – that’s because of your Deafness, your hearing, your eyesight – that’s like living in solitary.

Yes. True. That’s true.

Is that what you’re saying? Even though you’re in a cell?

The door opens, and you come out. For half a day you go over to the yard. At the other camps. But not this camp. This camp is only half a day. You go outside. And the rest of the day, you’re locked in your room. And at count time, you’re locked in your room – the door opens – you come out. It’s like that. If somebody wants…

O.K. Let me clarify. You’re not in solitary confinement.

No. No.

But, you’re in a 2-man cell.


And they still lock you in.

Yes. Sometimes. Oh. Every day. 4 or 5 times a day that door locks. Yes. It just keeps locking.

Is there another person – a second person – in the cell with you?

What did he say?

Is there another person in the cell with you?

Yes. Yes.

Is he OK?

Is he OK?

Yeah. Yeah. The one I have now, he’s a good one. He’s a Black. He’s young. He’s a Christian, now. I tell him about God. We study. We study the Bible. I give him questions. He gives me questions. We study it. Yeah. It’s nice. He’s going home in 4 months. But for me? In 4 months? I see him going in 4 months. What’s going to happen then? Who are they going to give me then?
I have to watch myself then. I have to take care of myself. Can I sleep at night? Things like that. It’s hard. I’ve been lucky.

Say that again.

In 4 months – he goes home… my roommate. So right now, I’m happy he’s with me, but in 4 months? What do I have to look forward to? It’s dangerous. Who are they going to give me now?

So… let me speak to him [JR]. This is one thing about the cellmates. Cellmates are very important. With Felix, when he has a good cellmate it makes life tolerable, but they’re always in fear of getting somebody that’s going to harm them.

I understand that, but is he saying that they always constantly have to watch out for somebody that’s going to attack them?


So he uses his hearing aid to listen against the door?

O.K. For the guard to open up. He wants to know when that door opens up.

Is it because he’s afraid somebody will open it and come and get him? Or not?

O.K. When you’re in your cell at nighttime – or the door is closed…

The door is closed.

…you want to hear when it’s opened.

Yes. That’s why I sleep with my head against the wall.

And the reason is so that nobody comes in to harm you.

Yes. To come in to try to rape me. That’s the only reason.

O.K. Has that ever happened?

Oh. Yes.

Where they just sneak in?

Yes. They try to sneak in. And I’m not fully asleep. And I jump up. Yes. You have to protect yourself. You have to. You have to. Outside, a lot of Deaf people – they’re in the room by their selves and they’re scared. Other people do that. They sneak in. How? How do they yell out? I can talk – because I was born hearing. It’s different for me. But other Deaf people? They can’t say anything. Nothing.

How Common is Sexual Assault in Correctional Facilities? – From CrimeDime


[Regardless of the frequency or infrequency, sexual abuse and assault within correctional facilities is unacceptable and must be addressed. Law enforcement uses it as a big stick. The fear of incarceration is exacerbated in an interrogation scenario, by the utilization of the sexual abuse element. Cops don't say, "You'll be locked up and lose your freedom." They say, "You'll be locked in a cage with a rapist."


Originally posted on CrimeDime:

Image: Bureau of Justice Statistics, public domain.

A 2005 article that appeared in The Criminologist was titled, “It ain’t happening here: Working to understand prison rape.” Although I had spent some time working in correctional facilities at that point, I still labored under the popular myth that sexual assaults in prison were absolutely ubiquitous.

Kreinert and Fleisher’s article taught me otherwise, and suggested that the narrative about prison rape is far more complicated than it might appear.

They wrote:

Hollywood and newspaper editorials as well as former inmates’ allegations of sexual assault, sexual coercion, rape and sexual slavery have slowly imprinted on America’s psyche the illusion that prison rape is a nearly inescapable consequence of imprisonment.

Prison rape research is flawed, they argue, and I don’t disagree. I also know that any kind of research on incarcerated populations or former inmates is extremely difficult to do. Prison officials don’t want…

View original 378 more words

The Making of “Felix in His Own Words”

The idea to do an interview and a film started back in October 2010.  Conflicting schedules, Felix being moved within the system, postponed it until June of 2011. With Florida Department of Corrections giving us media approval, Washington Correspondent for Mother Jones Magazine, James Ridgeway, and I met at the Jacksonville, Florida airport where I picked him up. I had driven down. We drove to the town of Monticello where Jefferson Correctional Institution is located. DOC policy has it that inmate media interviews are only given one hour per month. We arranged it so that we could maximize our time by arranging to have the interviews on the last day of June and the first day of July.

Our appointment was at 9:00 A.M. June 30, 2011. Jim, armed with his video camera equipment (might add a very small camera) and myself with pad and pens, we were greeted warmly and escorted to the Assistant Warden’s office to do the interview. We saw Felix in the hallway as we went in and were seated at the Assistant Warden’s desk. Jim set up his equipment, Felix was brought in and sat across from us. The door was closed but we still could hear noise in the hallway and possibly they could hear us. I introduced Felix to Jim. There was excitement in the air even thought Felix had a look of confusion until I explained what we were going to do. I do not sign, he reads my lips very well as we have been together now for over 15 years in court and in prison visits.


This is a drawing done by Felix, showing his view of the courtroom during his trial. Image courtesy Pat Bliss. This image will be republished on Bliss-2 along with the most recent chapter in the ongoing series.

The tape began to roll. There was some unfinished business that had to come out. Felix was raped and almost successfully completed a suicide within that last six months. He had not had the opportunity (according to his letters) to express his emotions to any person. No counselors available for the Deaf. He was not around other Deaf that he could call a friend, just like in the hearing world it takes time to confide in another person. Also, it can spell disaster to the inmate when certain inmates know one has been raped and they become a target. So Felix kept quiet – until now. When he started talking, he first was hesitant but I encouraged Felix to tell it all and get it out. Hence, this is what you, the viewer, are witnessing when you start watching this video.

Juveniles in Prison

From The New York Times:

Justices Bar Mandatory Life Terms for Juveniles.

The justices ruled that such sentencing for those under 18 violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.


A Transcript for the Video on Felix

It has been brought to my attention that our Deaf and HOH readers cannot understand the video of Felix, we put up last week. To aid in their understanding, I have created a transcript of the entire video. This video is part I of a series that we will be rolling out over the next 2 months. I will include transcripts on all future installments.

JR: Felix, Felix. We want to get a feel for how you live here.

PB: We want to get how you manage here, in prison.

FG: Oh, the deaf people here? Alright. It’s very very hard. Very very hard. For Deaf people. Man. Here, I’m the only Deaf here. The only one. It’s hard. It’s hard to talk with hearing people. Man, how do you say it? You can’t communicate. You can’t. You go…

We are victims.

Can you hear the guards? Can you hear them?

No. See this hole? My ear? This hole? And then behind the ear. The sound – over here. It came out back here, and cut out back here and cut out back here.

I have a hearing aid… this – this is to help.

The Sound.

Felix? Felix?

Tell me right now – what is wrong. What’s going on? You’re upset.



They give the other people clothes. I’ve been here 4 – 12 since I arrived here. No clothes.

No clothes?

No tee shirt, no boxers, no socks – nothing. This morning I came in and I see the assistant war[den] passing. Very, very nice. And I tell him, look man. Since I arrived here? With nothing. They’ve given me nothing! Nothing! The other people have it. The prisoners – they control the clothes. I can buy them… or… but I can’t – I’m not going to – I’m a Christian. I’m not going to exchange sex for clothes. And buy clothes. I’m not going to do that. I don’t do that.

So, this morning? The officer said – yesterday, the officer – I said, I have an interview – I have an interview with some people. I need some clothes. And he said, oh – I can’t help you. Can’t help you. And this morning I came out with just this. No boxers, no socks, no tee shirt – and he strip searched me and he gave me socks and boxers. But the other people? Well, they have – they have tee shirts – they have boxers, socks.

So, I gave it to him. I showed him. I said, it’s been a long time.

You can’t communicate with people. They talk… how am I supposed to understand what they’re saying? I can’t and so I miss things. With the others – when there’s other Deaf people around you – it’s easier. They help each other. If you’re the only Deaf person – and you’re in the room and they call for chow – to eat – I miss chow. I missed out.

They call for count – and I’m out – I can’t hear the count.

You can’t hear count?

So, the officer comes, and he scolds me. Hey! How?

You can’t hear count – therefore the officer scolds you.

And I can’t eat chow. I missed out. I stayed hungry. I have no money. And I try to go to court – to help me. And before – I had equipment. I put it back here on my hearing aid. You plug it in back here – and then the part that goes in my pocket so I can hear. It amplifies the sound for me. I had it before. For many, many years I had it. And the officers? At the camp? They said, let me see that. And they saw the piece that goes into my hearing aid – and the part that goes in my pocket. They said, what’s that?

I said it’s my family – they’re very poor – but they helped me. They bought it for me – to help me because I don’t have an interpreter. And there’s proof that I am supposed to have an interpreter. Because when you’re in the institution – but they don’t do that.

So… I have to try to help myself. So my family got that equipment for me. And the officer said, let me see it, and he stole it. He took it. They destroyed it – they said they destroyed it. I wanted to mail it home to my family – but they took it and destroyed it. And now I have nothing! Nothing! For many, many years I’ve had nothing.

You were in a general population?

What’s that?

General – yes, yes.

Yes. Yes.

You were in a dorm? A dorm? Many beds?

Yeah. At first, I was in a dorm and there were many beds. Many people sleeping all around. For Deaf people – it’s hard. Both ways. It’s… it’s… how do I explain it? If a Deaf person’s alone? You have nobody – nobody to help you – nobody. Deaf people help the other Deaf people. We help each other. But, if they see a person fighting for his rights – or trying to get something – they separate you. They did it to me. I… I was alone. I couldn’t tell myself…


So then they come. The other people – they come – and they steal our things. They assault us. They try to rape us. I got raped. December 14th.


Felix. Felix. Tell us.


Felix. Take a deep breath. And… and tell us. You haven’t told anybody. You can tell us.

I… if I… I told them. They don’t care.

In the Polk camp, there was a lot of Deaf people. It was no problem. For over 20 years there. No problems. Nothing. We helped each other – the deaf people that were there. But they changed the camp. And sent all the Deaf people around. And they took me and sent me to Austin City. They put me at the worst of the worst. It was up where they call IPOC. It was the worst of the worst. And the officers came from the wing, and they put me wa-ay in the back. They put me in a room with a Black man who’s there over 40 years. Over 40 years.

And then, my first day there… I came in and I saw the people. They were all watching me – Oh, he’s Deaf – and they come in – and I had to shower – and I went to the room, and I came out – and people were standing there, watching me. And they said, oh, he’s Deaf – he’s Deaf. And I couldn’t help myself – so I went back to the room. And then I told myself, I can’t do that. I can’t do that. I need to help myself first. I can’t show fear. I can’t show that.

So I came back out of the room and I went to the shower. There were 2 showers. There’s a hall – it’s about from here to there – and it’s dark. There’s no lights. It’s dark. And there’s a sheet – between the two showers and you can’t see the other and no one can see you in there. And I can’t hear. So I go in, and I start the shower – and I’m looking over here – where the door was at – and I’m showering – and I keep looking, because I want to get out fast because there’s another man over here, and he’s behind the sheet, and I don’t see him.

And he reached through the bar and got me around the neck – and I started fighting and fighting – and I couldn’t get his arm off – so I started to pass out and just before I passed out I saw another man coming through the door – another prisoner – and he started punching me and I fell and passed out. And he raped me. And I don’t know how many times. And I finished and I stayed in the shower a long time – like an hour – I didn’t want to get out, because I was scared.

When that was finished, the other prisoners said, it’s count time – it’s count time. I said OK, so I came out – then I went around – and I went in my room – and I stayed in my room over 4 days. I didn’t come out. I didn’t eat. I didn’t talk to anybody – or anything. And finally, they woke me up at the morning and told me I was moving. And I said, oh thank God – and I got my things and I moved. To the North Floor – up there – and I stayed there. On the North Floor, Chapter 6 – about 1 week – and then they woke me up again. They said you’re going back. Had to go back to the Polk. Ugh. So they sent me back.

So then, they stopped at…uhm… the West Unit. And I called. Finally, I got a phone and I called my lawyer. I said, please, please come visit me. Come see me. So she came and I told her what happened. And there was an investigation.

And then nothing.

Deaf people – I think – before when I was at the Polk camp, I tried helping the other Deaf people. And I was never thinking that it would happen to me. Over and over and over again, almost 30 years – over 30 years – and I tried to help them get past it – because I never thought it would happen to me. But it happened. It happened. And now I know what they go through.

I know my life has changed. Now, I live in fear. I am always looking around. Where are they? It’s really hard. It’s hard.

[Illegible – a reference to the time running out]

[Illegible – another reference to the time]

Felix. Thank you for sharing.

Thank you very much.

Uhm… there was another incident that happened to you in reaction to a medical [Illegible] in trying to commit suicide.


When I was born – my mom and dad – they didn’t want a Deaf kid. So they kicked me out. I was living with my grandmother and grandfather. We were very, very poor. And my sister – and my brother – They robbed somebody. And me? I want family. OK? They robbed somebody. And I lived with my grandmother. And they came back. They had jewelry all over. Gold things…

Felix. You’re talking about the crime.


I’m talking about after you were raped. You hanged… you tried to hang yourself.

Oh, I think… I was thinking how things were before. And I asked my sister – did she tell the truth? No. She never did. Always, always it hurt. And I was writing and writing – and I tried to get my daughter – and we were apart. I couldn’t stand it anymore.

I hung myself.

Then I went in – I went into the medical – to get meds – it’s at another camp. And the nurse came around – and we were arguing – and I didn’t understand what she was saying. She said something, and I was confused. And then the officer came – and then he grabbed me – and then took me back. And the nurse, and the officer – I didn’t understand what they were saying – and the nurse took me and she got right up close to me – And I had to move. I was in confinement. And the nurse said, you better hang yourself. I said, no that’s wrong. She said, you better. Be better for you if you hang yourself. Or when we come back, we’re going to kick your ass.

The harm of solitary confinement in prisons – The Washington Post

From the Washington Post Editorial Board:

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