Eighth and Final Chapter in the Felix Garcia Video Series

By BitcoDavid

Here, at long last is chapter 8 in our video interview series with innocent Deaf inmate, Felix Garcia. Those of you who have followed us on this journey know that Felix has served 30 years – so far – for a crime he didn’t commit. DeafInPrison.com is one among many who have worked to try to gain Felix his freedom.

This video is owned and copyrighted by James Ridgeway of SolitaryWatch.com. It can’t be copied, reproduced or embedded, but you are of course welcome to share the link to this page.

Tomorrow, I will put up a post containing links to all 8 chapters in sequence. That way, those of you who haven’t seen them all, will be able to do so.

As you know, there is a petition available where you can help deliver this vital message to the Governor of Florida, the Attorney General and 2 influential cabinet members. Here’s that link.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/453/783/026/felix-garcia-should-be-granted-a-full-pardon/

If you’d like to make a financial contribution to the court case, you can send a check or MO to

Reginald R. Garcia P.A.

PO Box 11069

Tallahassee, FL 32302

Write “For Felix Garcia” on the memo line.

This is a trust fund established to pay for incidental expenses necessary for the case. The attorney is working pro bono, and neither DeafInPrison.com, BitcoDavid BlogSites nor any of our contributors will receive any of the funds.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

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A Review of Glenn Langohr’s “Underdog”

By BitcoDavid

Who better to speak to the horrors of a broken prison system than a former inmate? Glenn Langohr’s inside view of life behind bars, in some of California’s most brutal prison facilities, is an eye opening, day in the life view that no other author could provide. Through his eyes, we see the inner workings of a system that few of us ever see, and all of us dread.

His opening salvo is a hat-tip to my other cause celebre, the mistreatment of our most unfortunate of fur children – shelter animals. He uses this chapter though, as a lead-in to a story of brutal torture, inept administration, racism, deception, derision, divisiveness, prejudice and injustice. In Underdog, Langohr makes the point that the time spent breaking inmates could be much better spent, building – or rebuilding – Human beings.

List of criminal gangs in Los Angeles, California

The 37 page book – more a novella, really – takes the reader on a first person account of a prison riot, triggered, both by a power vacuum within the heavily segregated racial schema, and the rampant Heroin use that has become such an integral part of prison life. From there, we’re made privy to a lockdown in the hole and the rabid need to classify all inmates as gang members. We’re told in exacting detail, the methodology used by gang investigators to determine an individual’s status – tattoos, self-identification, and the word of other prisoners. No burden of proof, no advocacy, no defense. You’re branded a gang member and thrown into solitary without so much as a how do you do.

The first demand the prisoners wanted addressed was the process Pelican Bay uses to validate gang members to SHU terms without end. They went on to say that prisoners are accused of being active participants of prison gangs using false or highly dubious evidence, where in the isolated SHU, their only way out is to debrief and that it provides false information, wrongly landing other prisoners in the SHU, in an endless cycle.

English: This is a picture of a Latin King sho...

This is a picture of a Latin King showing his Latin King tattoo–a lion with a crown–and signifying the five point star with his hands, which stands for the “Almighty” in the “Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation”. Public Domain photo.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Underdog, we’re given first hand views of several California facilities ending with the infamous Pelican Bay, during the height of the hunger strike that made the name of that institution a household word – the Western Attica.

I found Langohr’s voice to be open and brutally honest. His prose is neither stilted nor flowery. He writes about his subject in plain English, and peppers his work with the argot of the places that had so much impact on his life. Through Glenn, we learn the meaning of terms like off the shelf and IGI Gooners.

There is a marvelous first person tension to his writing. He’s not an academic writing about the prison system for a college text book, he’s a former prisoner and activist, writing about it for you and me.

I felt handcuffs placed around my wrist and heard the noise of them being tightened and then felt the steel bite into my skin. I was pulled backwards out of the visiting booth and steered in a half circle.
I said, “What are you going to do, arrest me for finding out you torture prisoners?”
Parker responded, “We’re escorting you off the prison. We’ll get you when you come back to prison, almost all do.”

You can contact Glenn Langohr via Email: rollcallthebook@gmail.com
Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00571NY5A

But best of all, Glenn has agreed to become a contributor to DeafInPrison.com. We look forward to reading many great posts from Glenn. In summation to this review, I’d say that if he writes for us, half as well as he writes in his books, we’re in for some great reading.

English: Pelican Bay State Prison, looking wes...

Pelican Bay State Prison, looking west, taken July 27, 2009, from 6,500 feet MSL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

In retrospect: On the state of seeking Deaf Smith

By Jean F. Andrews

[Author’s Note: If you live in Texas, you know about Deaf Smith, a popular hero among deaf and hearing Texans alike. Dr. Steve Baldwin a prolific writer, presenter and trained historian, shares his Deaf culture research with deafinprison readers. Dr. Baldwin gives us a fresh perspective on Deaf Smith’s role in Texas history. (Jean Andrews)]

***

In Retrospect: On the State of Seeking Deaf Smith by Dr. Steve Baldwin

Deaf Smith County Texas

Deaf Smith County Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since the inaugural 17-part exhibit of Erastus “Deaf” Smith’s 225th birthday celebration on the ground floor of the Texas State Capitol rotunda from April 18 to 20, 2012 and subsequent tours across the state, which ended on October 25 in Dallas, I decided to sum up my experience as the primary exhibitor, researcher, and writer since I first seriously studied about Deaf Smith (1787-1817), the famous “Texian” spy, scout, ranger and pioneer about 32 years ago.

Of course, the method of studying, researching and theorizing evolved over time with the advent of technology, Internet, new information, accessible papers, better archives and libraries. To go from a thin folder of information about Deaf Smith in the Baker Library for American History that was renamed Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin to two standard file boxes of my personal collection testifies for hard work, dedication, focus and a passion that has not abated over time. One word of advice to sincere future researchers and writers: do not bother to locate Smith’s missing and unmarked gravesite in Richmond, Texas since early 1830s burial sites are difficult to pinpoint due to customs, pine coffins, unclear town maps and complicated legal issues.

English: I took photo with Canon camera in Chi...

From the Deaf Smith Museum in Childress, TX. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, my alarming concern now is the lack of quality research because of the onslaught of vlogs and blogs that appear to epitomize inaccurate historical information about Smith’s life and feats. The worst case of plagiarism from the book (1973) by the definitive biographer of Deaf Smith named Cleburne Huston (1894-1989) came from a national deaf magazine. None of the magazine writers, albeit no respective bylines, actually took the time to research and verify their material, visit archives, and even worst, give their citations the necessary documented credit. Consequently, my role went from historian to vigilant against blatant plagiarism and online piracy of published work and the lack of historical accuracy.

English: Deaf Smith Elementary School

Deaf Smith Elementary School. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Let’s move on from the wanton disregard for honest publishing and researching to the three most common questions that came from school-aged students during the fall exhibit tour. First query: “Was Deaf Smith really deaf.” Based on contemporary 2nd and third-party witnesses and other documented information, Smith was deafened and his hearing became progressively worst, as he got older. His speech shape was fraught with high-pitched sounds, but intellectual enough to be understood. Research shows that he was quite the loner, hunted alone with his hearing dog, and abhorred group discussions or social life on the frontier.

The second most common question was: “Why do we have very few written documents from Deaf Smith himself?” First of all, he was quite a busy backwoodsman, always hunting, surveying, exploring or defending a Central Texas town from marauding bandits and warring Comanches. Although he had a good command of English, spoken or written, he was not a consistent literary man. There are relatively very few first-person accounts on record. However, thanks to his historic legacy and many legends in Texas, his fame was well documented in periodicals, diaries, journals, newspapers, family history, historical paintings and biographies of his contemporaries.

The third common question was: “How was Deaf Smith able to achieve so many incredible military feats in a span of seven months?” Keep in mind that he was chosen personally by General Sam Houston because of Smith’s reputation as a proven scout in early 19th century Texas. Such an assignment speaks volumes about Smith’s reputation as being the “eyes of the Texian army.” Based on his visual acuity, Smith knew the land, rivers and critters of Texas by heart, mind and soul, albeit smelling and feeling. He proved his leadership by commanding a spy and scout company, which made pivotal decisions that tipped the war in favor of the Texas independence in April of 1836. That band of soldiers saved Houston’s troops more than once, numbering about five documented activities, including the destruction of a strategic bridge.

English: “Surrender of Santa Anna” by William ...

“Surrender of Santa Anna” by William Huddle (1847–92), 1886 The painting “Surrender of Santa Anna” by William Huddle, shows the Mexican strong-man surrendering to a wounded Sam Houston. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If one would goggle the painting called “The Surrender of Santa Anna,” there is the evidence that Smith played a prominent and crucial role in the Battle of San Jacinto. In fact, the painter, William H. Huddle (1847-1892) literally interviewed the veterans who substantiated Smith’s role as the true hero of the victorious battle. In a nutshell, Smith was a seasoned soldier, determined person, proven survivor, courageous warrior and attitudinal barrier fighter.

In closing my special article for this website, I wish to announce that I intend to donate my Deaf Smith collection of documents, artifacts, research notes, photos, my filmed play, a monograph, and historic prints to the University of Texas at Austin. Such a collection in one of their libraries, be it the Briscoe Center or the Brockett Center, will allow future researchers to continue my passionate research and publish more new and accurate information about Texas’ most amazing military hero who was not “afraid of whizzing bullets” or “felt the bite before the bark of the dog.”

Steve Baldwin and “Deaf Smith.” Courtesy Jean F. Andrews

Contact Dr. Steve Baldwin for his publications on Deaf Smith.

dfsmithtx@aol.com

Steve Baldwin Image courtesy of Jean F. Andrews

Update on the #JusticeForFelix Project

Update on the #JusticeForFelix Project

By BitcoDavid

Felix Garcia Should Be Granted a Full Pardon

Let me start with the petition site. We’re currently at 331 signatures, which is where we’ve been for a while now. We still need almost 700 before we can send the petition. But, there’s a silver lining. Our numbers on the page – signatures notwithstanding – are pretty good. We’ve had 389 FaceBook shares and 54 tweets. It has been shared 9 times on Google+ and once on StumbleUpon.

The Petition page has a Google ranking of 6, out of a possible 10. It’s been listed on Google 156,000 times, 91,900 times on Bing and 8,942 times on Alexa. according to Google it has received 149 backlinks. That means that 149 sites other than our own, have posted a link to the page. All things considered, these numbers are really pretty good, and they support the point that there is substantial interest in freeing this innocent man.

Image: Pat Bliss

I received this via e-mail from Pat Bliss.

Felix’s case is now in the hands of an experienced clemency attorney to take it before the Governor and has signed on to do it pro bono for Felix’s sake. However, there will be reasonable and necessary costs such as photocopies, postage,   public records requests and travel incurred. A trust account has been set up. If you would like to help in this last stretch   of Felix’s quest for freedom, please send a check or money order [mention Felix Garcia under memo] made out to: Reginald R. Garcia P.A., P.O. Box 11069, Tallahassee, FL 32302. Thank you!  Pat Bliss

I would like to thank our magnanimous publisher, Joanne Greenberg, for allowing us to post this. When she created this site, and contracted me to manage and edit it, she insisted that it remain non-commercial and that it never solicit funds. However, she understands the need to help Felix, and has asked me to assure that no funds received here will

Image: Pat Bliss

go to DeafInPrison.com. This is funding for Felix’s case, to cover expenses above and beyond fees for the attorneys – who have graciously offered to handle the case pro bono. So, I repeat. No money from this drive will go to DeafInPrison.com, BitcoDavid BlogSites, or any of our contributors. It all goes to Felix’s worthy cause.

It is our intention to submit the petition coinciding with the attorneys case. It will provide the body blow that will support the attorneys in their knock out punch. (Sorry – had to throw a little Boxing lingo in there.) If you can help financially, it will be greatly appreciated, but if you can’t please sign the petition – if you haven’t already – and share, share, share.

Thank you all, and Happy Thanksgiving!

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Deaf Males and Sex Crime

By Joanne Greenberg

Deaf men are overly represented in prison for the commission of sex crimes. They are therefore more often the targets of prison cruelty from guards and other prisoners. I think this is the result of a closed world of Deafness, itself. We know that sex offenders are more usually made than born, having been assaulted themselves, during childhood. Other, bigger kids, in residential schools for the Deaf, rape girls and boys, and they have to encounter their tormentors throughout the school year – and often through life. Bullies can act with impunity. Who would tell on them, when there is no safe haven or refuge?

One sex abuser I know is, himself Deaf, and has been a teacher at a school for the Deaf. He abused many of his students. When finally charged with a rape, he did everything he could to impede the authorities – demanding different interpreters and declaring that without an interpreter suitable to his needs, and a lawyer fluent in Sign – not only Signed English, but also demotic ASL – he was not receiving equal justice.

Many minority individuals distrust the law so much that they will endure almost anything before calling “outside” for help. It’s only when the Deaf offender leaves that world – and commits offenses in the hearing world – that the offense comes to the attention of the law. By then however, the offender has habits that are entrenched and chronic. It’s not only a lack of knowledge of Deaf language and psychology that keeps Deaf prisoners far longer than hearing ones in prison, it is also the chronic nature of their offenses which makes for far longer sentences.

Joanne Greenberg was born in 1932, in Brooklyn, NY. She was educated at American University and received and honorary Doctorate from Gallaudet University – the world’s only college for the Deaf. She has written 2 books on the subject and has spent decades working with state mental hospitals for appropriate care for the mentally ill Deaf.

 

An Excellent Video From DeafInc

By BitcoDavid

This video is geared towards Police officers to help them communicate with Deaf individuals. It is a wealth of valuable information for all of us however. It’s extremely well made, making use of split screen and P.O.V. shots. It’s fully captioned and narrated in ASL. Well worth the watch.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Prison News Update

By BitcoDavid

Português: Uma cela moderna em Brecksville Pol...

Brecksville Police Department, Brecksville, Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been swamped and working hard on getting caught up on videos and other projects, which I know you’ve been waiting for. Trust me, they’re coming. But I wanted to get a post up here, which will bring you up to speed on some of what’s going on within the prison system.

On November 10th, the New York Times reported on the Second Chance Act.

The act, aimed at helping states and localities reduce recidivism, encourages changes like those that have already taken place in Kansas, Texas and Oregon. The states have expanded community-based drug treatment programs, improved postprison supervision and retooled parole systems that once shunted people back to jail not for actual crimes but for technical violations that are more cheaply and effectively dealt with through community-based sanctions like house arrest or mandatory drug treatment.

Still, states that want to cut recidivism rates deeply and permanently must also rethink thousands of laws and regulations that punish ex-offenders after they leave jail by denying them jobs, homes and basic credentials like drivers’ licenses.

Prison

Prison (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And of course, obvious in its omission is the denial of voting rights to former felons. I was always led to believe that once you paid your debt to society, you’re square with the house again. In many states, that’s no longer the case. Your mistakes and missteps follow you for life.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, for example, has urged public housing agencies not to adopt blanket policies of excluding prospective tenants with conviction records and to take other factors, including a family’s willingness to participate in counseling programs, into account.

And last spring, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reinforced and clarified an old policy barring employers from automatically denying employment to people based on arrest or conviction records. The employer must consider the seriousness of the offense, the time that has passed since conviction and the relevance of the crime to the job in question.

One unfinished piece of business for Washington is to regulate the job-screening companies that routinely make disastrous errors when reporting criminal background information on job applicants.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/opinion/sunday/how-to-cut-prison-costs.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20121111&_r=0

***

I just can’t get enough of Prisonmovement’s Weblog. On November 11th, they posted a Los Angeles Times article on the impact of the notorious and wrong headed Three Strikes Law.

Inmates prepare to leave for dinner in Facility B at the California State Prison-Lancaster, on June 10, 2010. 200 inmates are housed in cells (top) and due to overcrowding another 40 inmates sleep in bunks on the day room area (floor). There are approximately 4600 prisoners currently in this state prison which normally houses 2300 inmates. A legal battle over who gets to control California’s massive spending on prison – judges or corrections officials – may be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court with overcrowding at the state’s 33 prisons at the center of the debate.
Image Courtesy of PrisonMovement’s Weblog

Is California’s costly tough-on-crime era over? That’s perhaps too optimistic a conclusion to draw from Tuesday’s election results. In passing Proposition 36, voters curbed some of the excesses of the state’s three-strikes law, but they also rejected a measure to roll back the death penalty and adopted one — Proposition 35 — that broadens the sex offender registry and imposes new life terms for some human trafficking offenses. The state has ceased its relentless march down a road toward ever-tougher sanctions, ever-more-crowded prisons and ever-rising costs. It has not turned the corner, but it’s peering around it, trying to get a sense of whether it’s safe to proceed.

Readers of DeafInPrison.com already know that California has the worst prison overcrowding problem of any of the 50 states. But we also know that all of the states are literally suffocating, in ever increasing prison populations.

For the last two decades California voters have listened too often to their fear when going to the polls, so it’s important to remember that in previous years, initiatives generally steered clear of crime and punishment. Voters adopted a host of prison construction bonds in the 1980s and approved a victim’s bill of rights in 1982, but it wasn’t until 1990′s Proposition 115 that an initiative cut back severely on the procedural rights of criminal defendants. There followed a series of measures that fed on the cynical politics of crime. Voters expanded the range of offenses subject to the death penalty. In 1994, even after crime rates began their historic decline, voters adopted the three-strikes law. In 2000, they approved Proposition 21, a measure to revoke many of the state’s landmark protections for juvenile offenders as young as 14. In 2006, they turned their attention to sex offenders with Jessica’s Law, and in 2008, on the heels of a decade-long crime drop of 20%, they adopted a new victim’s bill of rights and virtually eliminated parole for many offenders with Marsy’s Law.

They finished with a link to the actual L.A. Times article.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-1111-tough-on-crime-20121110,0,4241285.story

But I’m sure you’d much rather see it in Prisonmovement’s Weblog.

http://prisonmovement.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/crime-and-punishment-in-california/

***

Here’s an amazing story by Massachusetts Newswire.

Joe Baker, a Tennessee inmate, has been incarcerated for 24+ years. With the help of his family, Joe has developed a website where offenders can apologize to their victims online in a non-intrusive way. In his quest to make amends for his crime, Joe created the website The Apology Project (www.theapologyproject.com) and continues to give back for his wrongdoing and encourages other inmates to do the same.

Offenders can post their apology on the website, and victims have the ability to read the apology and offer a response if they so choose.

This feels very much to me like the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commissionwhere the idea was atonement and forgiveness, not revenge and punishment. Obviously, this kind of thing is more symbolic than practical, but its definitely got some interesting potential. We’ve learned that tough on crime policies are ineffective – maybe something like this can offer a path to getting America off the #1 spot as the World’s jailer.

Joe is an inspiration in showing that inmates can change. They do not have to continue to be what they were once convicted of and continue to live a life of crime. He is proof that you can become part of the solution, instead of continuing to be part of the problem. Society should be interested in this, because it displays there can be true change in the world, no matter who you are or what your circumstance. That is what we ALL strive for, and we as a society, need to recognize that we must be proactive in the rehabilitation of inmates if we ever want to see true change.

http://massachusettsnewswire.com/2012/11/12/MNW5801_075603.php

***

And finally, in the strange bedfellows department, comes this from the WaPo.

Traditionally, prison reform has been a liberal issue, associated with civil rights activists troubled by the extreme racial disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system, and with drug decriminalization advocates who emphasize the high cost of drug prohibition. But without much notice, that picture has begun to change. These days, the right is leading the charge to reduce the U.S. prison population.

Yes, you read that right. The overstuffed prisons are becoming so problematic, that even the Religious Right sees the need for reform.

Instead, the change has come about due to an alliance between libertarians, who are as skeptical of the prison system as they are of all uses of state power, and religious conservatives. The latter group was brought into the fold because of two activists who served time in prison: Charles Colson, a former Nixon aide convicted for his role in Watergate, and Pat Nolan, a former Republican legislator in California who was put away on corruption charges.

The two headed up Prison Fellowship, an evangelical group that works with prisoners, and Nolan in particular ran its policy arm. In the mid to late 1990s, they began to put together a conservative coalition in support of reforms. It wasn’t long before big players like Grover Norquist and direct-mail magnate Richard Viguerie joined in the discussions.

Here – so you’ll know I’m not lying – is the link.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/11/13/the-conservative-push-for-prison-reform/?wprss=rss_ezra-klein&wpisrc=nl_wonk

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

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