Deaf Awareness Week – Day 6, Felix Interview Section 7

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

I’m glad to be able to finally bring you the 7th installment in our series with Felix Garcia, in prison, and being interviewed by Jim Ridgeway and Pat Bliss. As always, this intellectual property is under the explicit copyright of Jim Ridgeway and cannot be shared, downloaded or reblogged, but you are by all means, encouraged to share the link.

Producing these videos represents a tremendous amount of work, by all concerned, and it is for that reason that they take so long for us to make available to you.

In keeping with Deaf Awareness Week, and the fact that Yesterday, September 28th was Felix’s 51st birthday – his 30th behind bars, I would be deeply grateful if you would take just a moment to sign our petition, after viewing this moving and informative video.

Links to the petition also can be found in both sidebars, and here’s a link to the actual petition site page.

So, without further ado, here’s Felix #7:

“Our goal is to protect both sides of the badge.”

Houston Police Department memorial

Houston Police Department memorial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Our goal is to protect both sides of the badge.”

Sheriff Lt. Robert Henry of the Houston Police Department made these thought provoking remarks in this morning’s Houston Chronicle’s front page article, “Keeping calm in face of crises: Harris County sheriff’s team trained to defuse irrational behavior, Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, p. A1, A14).

Lt. Henry commands Harris County‘s Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT). The deputies work with professionals from Mental Health Mental Retardation of Harris County to jointly respond to calls that involve mentally-ill suspects. The deputies receive special training on how to work with mentally ill suspects.

Began nationally in the 1980’s by the Memphis, Tennessee Police Department, this program has been recently adopted in Houston. Last week, a Houston police officer shot and killed a double-amputee who threatened his partner with a pen and the crises intervention team (CIRT) was NOT there.

Houston Skyline

Houston Skyline (Photo credit: seoulpolaris)

Today’s article reports that the CIRT has been called on other cases such as when a young girl trashed her parents’ trailer and locked herself in a room. The CIRT was summoned and they were able to successfully use techniques to coax her out of the room and take her to a psychiatric hospital to be evaluated.

Allan Turner, this morning’s reporter cites that a fourth of the Houston jail’s current 8,900 inmates require some psychotropic medication.

According to Sheriff Adrian Garcia who started Houston’s CIRT program, taking a low-risk, nonviolent mentally ill person to treatment rather than jail will increase the person’s chances to not re-offend as well as decrease the costs of jails.

Sheriff Garcia’s analyses and Lt. Henry remarks are sensible. By “protecting both sides of the badge,” the policement and the consummer are protected from harm. But the CIRT must be set up as police policy in order to ensure that mentally ill individuals are protected from being harmed or tragically killed by an untrained police officer.

[Thank you Jean, for this wonderful post. We are always looking for input from the law enforcement, and correctional officer's communities. We know that their jobs are far more difficult than we can even imagine, and we're always glad to hear their perspective. - BitcoDavid]

Deaf Awareness Week – Day 5 **Happy Birthday, Felix!**

The following is a letter that will be sent to the Attorney General, two influential cabinet members and the Governor of Florida regarding a full pardon for Felix Garcia. Those of you who have been following this site, know that Felix is an innocent Deaf man who has served over 30 years for a crime he never committed.

Here’s the link to where you can go to sign this letter and the associated petition.


Image Courtesy of Pat Bliss

Office of Cabinet Affairs

The Capitol

Tallahassee, FL 32399

Dear [Attorney General Pam Bondi] [CFO Jeff Atwater] [Commissioner Adam Putnam]:

I am writing to ask you to recommend to Governor Rick Scott that Felix Garcia be granted a full pardon. New evidence has made it clear that Mr. Garcia, a deaf man framed for murder, has been unjustly held in prison for more than three decades. Felix’s story of unjust imprisonment by Florida authorities has been put into the national spotlight by James Ridgeway, one of America’s premier investigative journalists, in an article for Mother Jones. It is time for you to act on this new evidence.

In 2006, Frank Garcia, Felix’s brother, finally confessed in court that Felix had nothing to do with the murder and armed robbery of Joseph Tramontana in Hillsborough County on August 3rd, 1981. Frank’s 2006 testimony stated outright that the crimes had been committed by himself and Ray Stanley alone, and that Felix “had nothing to do with it.” During the 1981 trial, Frank, his sister Tina, and Tina’s boyfriend (Ray Stanley) conspired to lie under oath that Felix killed Tramontana. The three of them planned the crime together and then took advantage of Felix’s deafness to pin the crime on him.

There is overwhelming reason to believe that Felix Garcia, who entered jail in 1981 at the age of 19, is innocent. Frank’s fingerprints were found at the scene of the crime, while eyewitness testimony puts Felix five miles away, watching a movie and eating pizza at his girlfriend’s house. Physical evidence proves this: Felix signed a receipt for a pizza that was delivered to his girlfriend’s house at the time of the crime. Furthermore, Felix’s girlfriend and her mother testified in court that Felix was with them that night.

Nonetheless, during the 2006 review of Felix’s case, a judge denied freedom for Felix, stating that he “couldn’t discern the truth.” His confusion rested on the one piece of physical evidence linking Felix to the crime, a pawn ticket (for Tramontana’s pinky ring) which Frank asked Felix to sign because Frank told his brother that he “forgot his ID.” Frank’s 2006 testimony, however, makes it clear that the pawn ticket is irrelevant.

In your consideration of whether to recommend pardon for Felix after 31 years of unjust imprisonment, please consider that at the 1981 trial, Felix was not given the proper accommodations due a deaf person. As a result, Felix understood very little of what was said. Worse, in the 30 years since then, Felix has suffered the physical and mental abuse common among deaf inmates: rape, isolation, and neglect.

Please recommend that Felix Garcia be fully pardoned. Please do not thwart justice by keeping an innocent man in prison any longer. Let Felix have his life back.


CC:  Governor Rick Scott

Felix turns 51 today, and they haven’t been good years. What better way to celebrate both his birthday, and Deaf Awareness Week, than to show him our support in his Sisyphean struggle to receive justice.


Deaf Awareness Week – Day 4

This is a fun post for me, because I get to feature lot’s of pictures of gear.

A member of HEARD, or perhaps a visitor to their site, wrote an interesting piece on the fact that emergency horns – to alert residents to everything from hurricanes to invasions – cannot be heard by the Deaf, and that there’s nothing in place to provide for their safety.

It reminded me of something I’ve been learning and re-learning since I started the project.

We in the hearing world take for granted just how much difficulty the Deaf and HoH have in simple, day to day life. So much of our world is based on the ability to hear. Even in some cases, your basic safety. Hearing can be the difference between life and death.

Tell ya what. If you can’t hear this – you’ll still feel it in your bones.

We cross streets while texting away on our iPhones, all the while blissfully aware that we’ll hear any threat. We know the subway’s coming, because we hear it a half mile away. We can tell if a dog is friendly because we can hear his growl, and we know our cats are happy because we can hear them purr.

Imagine what a scary place our planet would be if all that were suddenly taken away.

These are the horns I have – for my 1 – 3K section. Altec 8-11B. They’re classics.

Deaf Awareness Week is a good time to stress some of these issues. And is a good place, because just doing this project has opened my ears to a whole world of understanding. It’s more than just speech, and even music – although one of the things I have also learned is that many Deaf can and do enjoy music.

Once, for an experiment, I tried to go a whole day blindfolded. Just to see what it was like, and if I could get along without my sight. Well, I’m here to tell you, it ain’t easy. But none of us ever question a world without our ears. Many Deaf tell me that if given the choice, they’d opt for blindness.

Someone wrote – somewhere – Deafness is worse than blindness, because the blind are cut off from things, but the Deaf are cut off from life. I’m paraphrasing, of course – and probably not too well – but I think the sentiment is valid.

As an athlete, I often wonder what life would be like as a paraplegic. I can’t help but admire those brave individuals who overcome that kind of disability and go on to perform incredible feats. The guys who run marathons in wheelchairs – that sort of thing. But, I’ve learned – only recently – that when I see a beautiful piece of artwork, read a stirring blog entry, or hear a stunning score created by someone who’s deaf, I’m witnessing an even more impressive feat.

Here’s your closing shot.

Neve console. For 30 years, I called this “home.”

Individuals with Disabilities and the Issue of False Confessions

False confessions are more common than expected. The most common explanations are that the suspect experiences fear, intimidation, frustration and “just wants to go home.”

Deaf individuals as well as other vulnerable groups are at risk for making false confessions because of their communication differences and disabilities, youth, and personality characteristics.  In one case I worked on the detectives did not use a sign language interpreter with a deaf woman suspect but instead used written communication and lipreading.  The detectives were not aware that the deaf woman had a second grade reading level, could barely write an English grammatical sentence, and was guessing and reading body language to try to determine what the detectives were asking her.

Furthermore, police officers are often trained in using coercive techniques, asking complex questions, repeating questions, making false promises, or threats, or using confusing and ambiguous language to force the false confession. In this article, Individuals with Disabilities and the Issue of False Confessions, published in the Champion, July 2012, p. 34-42, Dr. Vernon and I provide recommendations that can be adopted such as mandatory video recording so that vulnerable populations such as deaf individuals are provided their Constitutional Rights and to ensure there is documentation that the confession is reliable and voluntary.

[Sadly, the link to this article is unavailable, as the Champion has chosen to place it in their protected area. I have included links to their membership page, should you want to join and access it that way. Guest memberships cannot access the protected area. --BitcoDavid]

[***Update - Dr. Andrews was kind enough to e-mail me a PDF of the full article. Here's the link. - BitcoDavid]

False Confessions


Deaf Awareness Week – Day 3

This is Marlee. She’d give some lucky Human an awful lot of love. has set up a whole Web site devoted to finding homes for deaf dogs and cats, in celebration of Deaf Awareness Week. Page after page of wonderful, loving, rescue animals that need a little extra attention, because they’re deaf. Research has shown that teaching deaf dogs to follow basic Sign language commands isn’t difficult at all.

PetFinder. com is a huge organization, and I applaud them for using Deaf Awareness Week as an opportunity to help not only these wonderful and needy animals, but to help us as well. Deaf or hearing, there’s nothing in this world that can love you like a dog. These animals have 50 millennia of breeding specifically for that purpose – to love Humans.

I’m glad to help support them in this worthy cause – and at this most propitious of times.

The good news is that as I click through these links, I find a surprising number of animals that have already been adopted. So, although that means the pool is diminishing, it also means that these forgotten members of our society have been saved. And in the world of animal rescue, where there are far too few no-kill shelters, those dogs and cats that aren’t adopted quickly – are far too often, destroyed.

I have always been a supporter of PetFinder. com, but I really love the idea of having a drive to rescue deaf animals during Deaf Awareness Week. It speaks volumes as to the amount of heart this organization’s executives have.

Congratulations, – gives you two thumbs up.

Deaf Awareness Week – Day 2: Deaf Art Exibit – From Jean F. Andrews

Susan Dupor Revival of the Deer. Image courtesy of Jean F. Andrews.

This is a PowerPoint document, containing art works by Deaf artists in Texas. The exhibit was funded by the National Endowment of the Arts, VSA Arts, Southeast Texas Arts Council and the Texas School for the Deaf, in Spring 2008 at Lamar University and Texas School for the Deaf.

Randy Garber Blue Jay Blues. Image courtesy of Jean F. Andrews.

In putting together this post, I saw some of these works – and believe me, they’re worth the effort.

Editorial Recommends More Police Training in Dealing with Disabled Suspects

Houston Police Department

Houston Police Department (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a scathing editorial in today’s Houston Chronicle (Tues. Sept. 25, 2012, the editor urged the Houston Police Department to undergo more training in the handling of suspects with mental illness. Referring to a tragic accident where a police officer shot an unarmed double amputee in a wheelchair who also had mental health issues who threatened him with a silver pen, the editor wondered why a taser or baton were not used instead of a gun with bullets. The man was shot and killed. (“Killing Sparks cry for HPD reform,” Monday Sept 24, 2012.
The editor recommended more police training in dealing with disabled Americans. To the editor’s suggested training needs, we also need more police training in how to effectively handle deaf and hard of hearing suspects with low language levels.

English: A 1952 Ford Customline patrol car tha...

BitcoDavid just couldn’t resist inserting this shot. [A 1952 Ford Customline patrol car that was in use by the Houston Police Department. It is now on display at the Houston Police Museum in Downtown Houston. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)]

Day 1, Deaf Awareness Week

English: Deaf students in the classroom. Baghd...

Deaf students in the classroom. Baghdad, Iraq (April 2004). Photo by Peter Rimar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did you know this is Deaf Awareness Week? Well it is. One thing that I wanted to do to help commemorate this milestone in Deaf Culture, is to post this little spelling test.

The test comes to, courtesy of Dan Schwartz via Lipreading Moms and Dads.

It’s an mp3 file of a simple spelling test, where the words are filtered to sound the way they would if you suffered from one type of hearing loss. Give it a shot. It’s much harder than you might think – and it gives a great insight into what life is like for those with hearing loss. Now try and imagine the struggle faced by the profoundly Deaf.

I’m working hard on getting Felix – 7 ready for you, and it should be up in a day or so. Little I can think of, gives better insight into the struggles of the Deaf – especially in prison – than this open and outspoken man, who 30+ years ago was sentenced to life for a crime he never committed.

English: Graphical representation of frequency...

Graphical representation of frequency- and loudness-dependence of human hearing loss. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pat Bliss and I have been working on posting a letter that will automatically send to certain administrators within the Florida government, asking for Felix’s release. The letter would work in conjunction with one of the cause sites, and each of you will be able to click and send a copy. I hope to have that worked out this week as well.

So Deaf Awareness Week will be a busy one for us, here at

There but for the grace of God, go I.

Sir Joshua Reynolds - Self-Portrait as a Deaf ...

Sir Joshua Reynolds – Self-Portrait as a Deaf Man – Google Art Project (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s Not All Bad

One such court in San Fransisco gives out candy when the perps show up for their hearings.

ABC News reported on the growth and progress of Community Courts. I got the article from AnotherBoomerBlog – Marsha Graham. The idea, albeit quite new, is simply stellar. These are small local courts set up to deal with low level crimes – vandalism, drunkenness and prostitution.

Here’s the article link:

Instead of dolling out jail time in an already overcrowded and broken penal system, these courts encourage things like community service for drug offenses and painting walls for taggers.

And unlike the thousands of specialized drug courts across America, community courts are designed to provide quicker, cheaper justice while improving life in specific neighborhoods or police precincts. Defendants perform community service in the neighborhoods where they broke the law. Taggers must paint over graffiti. And shoplifters are required to help distribute clothes to the poor.

Now, I don’t really get why somebody would want this painted over, but…

So far, over a dozen states have adopted the Community court model. And the results are starting to roll in. 4500 defendants have been tried for low level crimes in San Fransisco alone – alleviating a some of the backlog being dealt with by the traditional courts in the area.

Police officers say that since sentences involve counseling and treatment – rather than incarceration – recidivism is decreased, and so is their workload.

Police Captain John Garrity, whose district is served by the Community Justice Center, says his officers can focus more on serious crime because the court gets the lower level offenders into social services, where they leave less likely to reoffend than they are from short jail stints.

The Midtown Community Court

The Midtown Community Court (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The point here is something that many of us have been saying for a long time. Treatment, therapy, social work and an ounce of compassion will inevitably do more for rehabilitation of offenders, than will harsh prison sentences, 3 strike laws and other even more draconian and cruel methods of punishment. As one who is no stranger to the criminal justice system – I can tell you – education and treatment go a lot further than steel bars and jump-suits.

Again, the link to ABC’s coverage:

Just Be Glad You Don’t Have To Carry This Around

I was on one of Shanna Groves’ pages last night, and I got into an interesting discussion with Dan Schwartz. Like me, he’s a blogger and an audio engineer, so we had something in common to chew the fat over.

If you’re interested in hearing aid technology, Dan’s a font of information. I mentioned that among my many interests, is a love for antique technology, and he turned me on to an awesome site. The Hearing Aid Museum. I combed through there and came up with this:

Amplivox “Radovox” Vacuum Tube Hearing Aid

All images courtesy of:

The site gives the approximate date of manufacture as 1938. This was a 2 piece unit. The box you see above, and an earpiece that stowed away in a small compartment. The user would hold the earpiece up to her ear, and a microphone inside the box unit would pick up the sound.

Here’s an inside shot:

Interior view of the amplifier circuit as seen from the back.

Now, looking at this picture – I can give you some idea of how this thing worked. Again, this is just my observations from looking at a picture. In order to properly analyze it, I’d need to see an actual schematic diagram.

Anyway, you can see that there are 3 vacuum tubes. The one furthest from view has an anode cap and I imagine that that’s the output stage. Since only one output tube exists, it’s safe to say that this is a class A amplifier. The two tubes closest to us would be the two gain stages of a preamp. The first stage steps up the low level output of the microphone, and the second stage drives the output.

As is standard with tube type amplifiers, the output stage is coupled to the earpiece via the transformer which can be seen in the lower right hand corner.

Volume is controlled by another transformer – of a type called an autotransformer also known as a variac. I find that odd, since a simple variable resistor type potentiometer would have worked as well, and been much cheaper to produce. If this is a potentiometer, it’s really quite large.  Beneath that volume control, is the microphone, which I assume to be a standard magnet – voice coil type – similar to that used in early telephones. The possibility exists that it’s a crystal mic., but it doesn’t really look like any I’ve seen.

This battery was actually made by inserting a carbon rod into a jellied acid solution, surrounded by a lead shield. That was covered in paper. The battery itself weighed over a pound, and the device would have need two of them. The one seen above is called a “B” battery. It supplied a 4.5v bias voltage and a 52 volt B+ voltage. The second battery – not shown was called an “A” or “#6″ battery and it would have provided another 4.5 volts to heat the filaments of the tubes. These batteries would only have supplied power to the unit for a few hours at most.

The Radovox hearing aid measured 4⅞” high by 6⅞” wide and 3⅞” deep. It weighed 1 lb 7 oz without the batteries.

Add to that about 3 lbs for the batteries, and you’re looking at a hearing aid that weighs in at just under 5 pounds.

In as far as I can discern – again, from looking at the picture – this was strictly a microphone and amplifier system. No filtering, phase shift, frequency shift or any other signal processing associated with modern hearing aid technology.

So this is a far cry from the micro-transmitter, Bluetooth type hearing aids we have now. And Shanna would be appalled at how bling-less it was. Chances are good however, at least in some cases, that it may have helped some people hear.

English: Artone bluetooth loopset is a small w...

Just by way of Comparison Artone bluetooth loopset is a small wireless hearing aid accessory utilizing 2.4 GHz wireless technology to connect to accessories like TV sound streamers and mobile phones. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)





Here’s the link to the actual page:



Five Years in Solitary – For a Cell Phone – by HumansInShadow

I got this from  They got it from Jim Ridgeway’s site, It appears that Phillip Miller was a model prisoner, having served the first half of a twenty year sentence. A guard smuggled a cell phone in, and Miller ended up getting an additional 5 years in solitary.

Miller was brought before an internal prison disciplinary hearing and pled guilty to the two charges. But he sought to call various inmates who could attest to his good behavior and to describe what actually had happened. The hearing officer denied him  his request, claiming that he, the prison officer, knew all about Miller and it wasn’t necessary to call the witnesses. Miller was found guilty of both charges and sentenced to 60 months—five years—in solitary, with a proviso that 24 months might be suspended if he incurred no further disciplinary charges. Despite the nonviolent nature of his offenses, Miller was shipped off to serve his time at Southport, the all-solitary supermax facility south of Elmira.

The article goes on to state that New York leads the nation in disciplinary use of solitary confinement and segregration.

Long stretches in the so-called Special Housing Unit (“the SHU” or, more commonly, ”the box”) is an everyday punishment in New York State prisons. Currently, about  4,500 inmates are serving time in some form of 23-hour-a-day lockdown, with sentences ranging from months to decades. As we wrote in an earlier article, New York leads the nation in the use of “disciplinary segregation,” and isolation “is very much a punishment of first resort, doled out for minor rule violations as well as major offenses. In New York, the most common reason for a stint in solitary is creating a ‘disturbance’ or ‘demonstration.’…Second is ‘dirty urine’—testing positive for drugs of any kind…Other infractions include refusing to obey orders, ‘interfering with employees,’ being ‘out of place’ and possession of contraband—not only a shiv but a joint, a cellphone or too many postage stamps.”

English: The Solitary Confinement cell of the ...

The Solitary Confinement cell of the Gladstone Gaol, Gladstone, South Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, ask yourself what happened to the C.O. who brought the cell phone in, in the first place.

The corrections officer in question was 12-year veteran Leon Strand. According to information provided upon request by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision’s Office of Public Information, Strand was ”arrested on felony dangerous contraband charges by the New York State Police on May 21, 2010.” The following day, Strand was suspended without pay, and he “resigned from his Correction Officer position while facing DOCCS disciplinary charges.” The Public Information Office also reported that “on November 23, 2010, Strand pleaded guilty to Promoting Prison Contraband,” but was not aware what sentence he had received. Records show that Strand never served any time in the New York State prison system, and as far as we can ascertain, never did any jail time, either.

Known as "klondike" or "the hol...

Known as “klondike” or “the hole”, this subterranean holding cell was the most severe form of solitary confinement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


This is Actually Pretty Funny

I got it from Deaf News Today. It’s captioned, so everybody should be able to appreciate it.



A Word About Our Art

Solitary Confinement by Stan Moody

One of the things I’m proudest of where is concerned is the varied collection of graphics we use in our posts.

The idea behind inserting graphics came originally as an attempt at boosting our SEO, but I’ve come to enjoy putting pictures in each of our posts.

I feel these graphics do much more than merely up our search engine ratings. I think they enhance the articles and add greatly to the enjoyment you – our readers – experience when you visit our site. But, as it turns out, they have also greatly benefited me. I carom through dozens of pictures for each post I put up, and for those our other contributors post, which it is my honor to edit and format.

A man in Tamms made this drawing and others like it to communicate his despair from being in Tamms since 1998. (Image: Bear Cub)

As you already know, we  at have a deep abiding respect for intellectual property, and we always credit the sources for our art, and provide links back to the original sites. We also get a lot of artwork from other sites when we reblog, and from Wikipedia.

Basically, the whole Internet serves as source material for the many great graphics we’ve put up on this site over the last 7 months.

As any student of art can tell you, suffering is the fuel for art, and nowhere is suffering more acute than in the prison system. Especially for the Deaf. We know that, but what I’ve learned is that these subjects make for a wealth of beautiful photos and drawings that we can share with you.

It is my hope that each of these photos and images will move you, as they have moved me. This site is not only an educational resource, bringing awareness to desperate and tragic issues, but also a meeting place where fertile minds can work to resolve them.

I appear to have gotten this little guy from Pat Bliss. I hope he brings a little smile to your face.

So enjoy these pictures as much as I enjoy bringing them to you. The world is a broken place, and this site deals with one of its greatest areas of brokenness. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look at a beautiful picture – even one of a horrific prison, or a Human being, being slowly robbed of his sanity in solitary confinement – and derive some meaning from it.

More Pictures of Leroy Colombo – From Jean Andrews

Dr. Andrews sent me these pictures as a supplement to her article on Leroy Colombo.

Historical marker in Galveston, Texas

Colombo in his later years

This is another historical marker in Galveston

Two-shot of Colombo on beach in peak of his career

Street in Galveston bearing the name of this great Deaf athlete

I hope you enjoyed this brief photo-essay. The article by Dr. Andrews can be found at






Justice Silenced Campaign – Re: Sept. 4th Meeting

This is a PDF letter written to General Council Greg Buzzard. This letter was written as a follow-up to a meeting that took place on September 4th.

Represented were: AdvoCare, and C.U.R.E. National (Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants), Embracing Lambs, Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf (HEARD), and The Justice Silenced Campaign. was surely there in spirit.

The injustices that Deaf and Hard of Hearing Citizens endure in the Courts, interactions with Law Enforcement, and in the Correctional System, are beyond reproach.

Click on this link to view the entire letter:


We wish to emphasize the urgency for the establishment of a bipartisan/bicameral Congressional Caucus for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Citizens that would focus on common legislative objectives to assure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and other laws that protect people with disabilities, in all aspects of the government, including, our Courts, Law Enforcement, and the Correctional System.

Breaking – From Prisonmovement’s Weblog – PA Rejects Clemency in Terry Williams Case

We’ve been following this story. Here’s the latest in this tragic case.

Our gratitude to Prisonmovement’s Weblog for keeping us updated.

A divided Pennsylvania Board of Pardons voted against clemency for convicted Philadelphia killer Terrance “Terry” Williams in the 1984 killing of Mount Airy churchman Amos Norwood.

Williams was a victim of constant sexual abuse by family members and other adults in his life, since he was 6 years old. While it can certainly be argued as to whether or not that entitled him to take the lives of those who had abused him, a consensus would agree that he doesn’t deserve the death penalty.

With Williams’ state and federal appeals exhausted all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, the 46-year-old former Germantown High School quarterback’s last hope of escaping becoming the first person executed in Pennsylvania in 13 years lies in a hearing Thursday before Philadelphia Common Pleas M. Teresa Sarmina.

English: Germantown High School in Philadelphi...

Germantown High School in Philadelphia, where Williams was a student. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Again, a tip of the hat to Prisonmovement’s Weblog for their great coverage of this story. Here’s that link, again:



Not Providing Interpreters for Deaf Persons Can Result in Tragedy as Loss of Life as Well as Be Costly for Jail Systems

Shawn Francisco Vigil, died in prison. He was not provided an interpreter during the medical/psychological intake process, was placed in isolation and committed suicide.

Below, the link to the Denver Post‘s coverage:

Jail officials had housed Vigil in a special unit away from the general population and failed to do any “meaningful analysis of whether he posed a substantial danger to himself,” according to the lawsuit that was filed by Debbie Ulibarri, Vigil’s mother.

In recognition of their negligence, Denver has agreed to pay a settlement to Ulibarri’s family in the amount of $695,000.

The suit alleged the city did not adequately train staff, didn’t have proper accommodations for hearing impaired inmates, failed to provide a sign language interpreter and did not screen the inmate for mental health concerns.

New York Times’ coverage of Terry Williams’ case



On Sept. 13th, we posted an e-mail from that told the story of Terrence Williams, the Pennsylvania death row inmate, scheduled for execution on Oct. 3rd. Williams was found guilty of murdering the men who had continuously raped him since his early teens.


Here’s the link to the New York Times article:


The inmate, Terrance Williams, 46, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Oct. 3 for killing a man after what his supporters say was years of being abused by the victim, as well as by a teacher and an older boy who first raped him when he was 6.

This case has received a lot of media attention, and groups like are seeking to have the death penalty overturned in favor of life in prison. In Pennsylvania, a life sentence means no parole.


English: The room at , completed in 2010. Espa...

The room at San Quentin – completed in 2010. Until this room was built, all California executions were carried out in a converted gas chamber, Also at Quentin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A petition urging Gov. Tom Corbett and the state’s Board of Pardons to commute Mr. Williams’s sentence to life without parole has been signed, his lawyers said, by about 286,000 supporters, including former judges, religious leaders, mental health professionals and 35 advocates for children, who say his crimes resulted from a long history of abuse.

Personally, I – not being a lawyer – would call what Terry did, justifiable homicide. In my opinion, although he certainly does not deserve death, nor does he deserve life w/o parole.

English: new version of File:Death sentences U...

            Death sentences United States                    (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Do Deaf people dream in ASL?

Often they do, but it depends on how long they have been deaf and what form of communication is natural to them. You can often see deaf people who are sleeping, talking to themselves in their sleep in full or half formed sign. Many report that the characters in their dreams use the same range of sign – regional professional or technical signs – and with the range of skill as I’ve seen in them while awake.

Deaf friends have told me that they dream they can hear, but since they don’t really know what that entails, or how speech sounds, they imagine some pretty bizarre things.

I have a friend whose parents I had known for quite a few years. I was sad when her mother died. And one day, I was talking to her about her family and I said, “I really miss your mother. We had quite a few telephone visits – and I always knew it was she, as soon as I picked up the phone. She had a very pleasant roughness to her voice. A texture that was unique.”

My friend looked at me in surprise and said, “Are you telling me that people have different voices?”

I told her that not only are our voices different, but most of our emotions were shown in the voice, and not as she had imagined, in face or body language. This surprised her. I also told her that we sometimes play or express other moods with our voices conveying one thing and our body language, another.

Think about what it must be like in prison, where voices are kept dead flat – which translates into dead flat ASL.

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