2012 at DeafInPrison.com

By BitcoDavid

Although our brief hiatus for the holidays isn’t officially over until Wednesday, I wanted to get this post up before the end of the year. I would like to begin by wishing all our contributors, guest posters, readers and commentators the happiest of holidays. 2012 was a great year for us, and I truly hope that 2013 proves to be orders of magnitude better, not just for us, but for all of youyou who have made DeafInPrison.com possible.

DeafInPrison.com was founded in December of 2011 by our Publisher, Joanne Greenberg. It was at the behest of one of our contributors – Dr. McCay Vernon – after he was moved by the Felix Garcia story. I became Editor and Administrator in January of 2012. We spent about 2 months developing the format and launched on March 4th.

Solitary Confinement by Stan MoodyImage: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/12/03/18701671.php

Solitary Confinement by Stan Moody
Image: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/12/03/18701671.php

During the past 9 months we’ve covered a number of subjects including Deaf culture, Deaf education, the School to Prison Pipeline, prison health care, the mentally ill in prison, prison rape and sexual abuse, overcrowding in our prisons and the War on Drugs.  We’ve managed to bring together some excellent minds as contributors and guest columnists, and enjoyed over 700 comments.

We’ve peppered these great articles with some truly wonderful artwork. Artwork which – speaking as a content creator – is a source of pride for me. We’ve undergone a number of upgrades and format changes since our launch. First and foremost, our ability to embed videos. This feature allowed us to bring you the entire Felix Garcia Interview. And since we weren’t dependent on a hosting site, we could insert those videos fully captioned. I caption my videos manually. That guarantees an error free and accurate representation of what’s being said. Sadly, I have seen other captioned videos – those that rely on autocaptioning software – that look like the mess you get when you let your cell phone autocorrect your text messages.

Our ability to embed videos, in fact, was what gave Jim Ridgeway the confidence to allow us access to the Felix videos, in the first place. An action that resulted in my deepest gratitude and indebtedness to him. He was quite reticent to put these videos up on YouTube, where they would have been unprotected and vulnerable to abuse.

Felix and me 10/28/2012 Image Courtesy of Pat Bliss

Felix and me 10/28/2012
Image Courtesy of Pat Bliss

And DeafinPrison.com has done a lot more for Felix’s all important cause, than simply putting up a few videos. Our contributor, Pat Bliss, has been working tirelessly – for several years now – to obtain Felix’s well deserved freedom. She visits him as often as possible, and corresponds with him constantly. (He calls her Mom.) She has become the go to expert on the case, and has written about it extensively on DeafInPrison.com.

We created a petition site at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/453/783/026/felix-garcia-should-be-granted-a-full-pardon/ and we plan to deliver those signatures to the Governor and several cabinet members in Florida. Unfortunately, over the past few weeks, we haven’t been getting the attention to this petition that it requires. Felix’s clemency hearings are going on now . We need 700 more signatures before we can present this, and we want it to work in conjunction with the hearings.

Please! Please! If you haven’t signed this petition, do so now. And please share it to all your friends.

Felix has already served more time than many guilty people serve for similar crimes – and he’s innocent. He deserves justice.

juvenile girl in prison PBSNewsHour/YouTube Photo by Richard Ross

juvenile girl in prison PBSNewsHour/YouTube Photo by Richard Ross

Other upgrades have included the ability to embed non-video media, such as PDFs and Excel files, and our awesome sidebars – another source of pride for me. Through our sidebars, we’ve been able to provide you with bleeding edge coverage of the latest posts by a host of Web sites and Blogs. Our sidebars are an ever expanding source of additional information and interactive content, and a good percentage of my work on the site is in maintaining and adding to them. I hope you find them useful and enjoyable, and moreover, I hope you will gain a greater appreciation for them as they grow.

We’ve also begun adding interactive tag links to all our stories, as well as related content links to the bottom of each post.

During this first 9 months, we’ve made some wonderful contacts and partnerships. I would like to extend my gratitude to each of them, and extend the hand of friendship to all others who would like to be a part of the DeafInPrison.com experience. Here’s the honor roll:

Human’s in Shadow, National Assn. of the Deaf, Glenn Langohr, Jim Ridgeway, Mad Mike’s America, Charlie Swinbourne, Shanna Groves , PrisonMovement’s Weblog , Marsha Graham, DeafRead.com, CrimeDime, Talila Lewis and HEARD, Diane Lane Chambers, ImageWorksLLC, Maria Dollhopf, Cynthia Dixon, Prison Enquirer, Curi56 and Thousand Kites.

I hope I got everybody, but if I missed you, please accept my apology and feel free to backlink to yourself in a comment. A lot of you have multiple sites, and I, obviously can only create one link per name. You can also backlink to one of your other sites.

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

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

Now, on to the Stats:

We received 31,000 views in 2012. We created 240 posts and uploaded 493 pictures. Our busiest day was October 25th with 451 views. Our most popular piece that day was Angela McCaskill Speaks Out. That piece was our fourth most popular of all time, with the first three installments of the Felix Garcia Interviews edging it out for the #1,2 and 3 slots.

Our top 5 referrers were FaceBook, Networked Blogs, WordPress, Blog Catalog and DeafRead. We had views from 84 countries.  Our videos – 16 of them, altogether – received 1897 views. We got 778 comments.

I’ve been involved with the Blogosphere and Citizen Journalism since it first started back in the ’90s, and everybody has always told me it takes at least a year to get a site off the ground. Based on that, I have to say DeafInPrison.com is doing exceptionally well. I’m proud of our success, but I’m looking to 2013 to make this past year, pale by comparison. Remember, we’re only 9 months old. That’s still infancy – at least in dog-years.

Now, I don't really get why somebody would want this painted over, but... http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/09/14/tribute-to-graffiti-50-beautiful-graffiti-artworks/

Now, I don’t really get why somebody would want this painted over, but…
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/09/14/tribute-to-graffiti-50-beautiful-graffiti-artworks/

Here’s some of where I see us going. I could die and go to Heaven, if Felix got full clemency, and was finally released. Perhaps we could convince him to share some of his experiences with us, as a contributor or guest blogger. I want to see us at least double - if not triple our posting for this coming year. I also want to add more videos and more non-video embedded media. I want to see our side bars grow further, packed with more interactive attractions. I want more input from our existing contributors, and I would like to bring as many more on board, as possible. I also want to see more guest posts – and of course, I would love the opportunity to guest post on your blog. Shoot me a line or comment if you think that might be something you’d be interested in.

Again, thank you all for being a part of the DeafInPrison.com project and here’s to wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2013.

English: Visitors entrance to the Utah State P...

Visitors entrance to the Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah. (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.

Job Opportunity

By BitcoDavid

This comes to us from DeafNetwork.com. I hope some of our readers may be interested.

Here’s the link, the text will be posted below.

http://deafnetwork.com/wordpress/blog/2012/12/20/job-opportunity-executive-director-at-rocky-mountain-deaf-school/

Job Opportunity: Executive Director at Rocky Mountain Deaf School

Employment

Rocky Mountain Deaf School (RMDS) is a bilingual charter school located in the shadow of the beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountains in Golden, Colorado. This high performing school is founded on the belief that deaf children can and should succeed. The driving force behind the school is a theme of excellence in research-based academic programs. Each student’s potential is maximized as teachers continue to instill in each child the joy of living and learning.

Executive Director Rocky Mountain Deaf School

December 11, 2012

Position: Executive Director of a bilingual charter school

Nature of Work:

Provide innovative leadership to guide RMDS in its vision and assume responsibilities of work to ensure accountability of school’s rigorous academics, finances, and overall school management.

Looking down on Silverton, Colorado

Imagine getting paid to live here. And at the same time helping Deaf children. Looking down on Silverton, Colorado (Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn)

Responsible for building partnerships with parents and community; supervising and establishing working relationships with staff, the general public and other government agencies; and implementing new and current research in the field of Deaf education. Represents and advocates on behalf of the school with governmental bodies, private agencies, and the community about issues pertaining to Deaf education. Accountable for annual School Improvement Plan and other documentation required by the district and state.

Qualifications

Master’s Degree with licensure in Deaf Education required. Administrative and leadership credentials, such as Director of Special Education or Principal license, preferred. Proficiency in American Sign Language and written English; excellent communication skills; knowledge of Bilingual Education practices, financial manage- ment, and applicable Special Education laws, codes, regulations and procedures; experience in leadership roles, public relations, fundraising and recruitment.

Salary

Commensurate with education and experience (11 month administrative position).

To apply

Interested persons should submit a letter of application, resume or curriculum vitae, official transcripts, and three recent employment references to:
Search Committee Rocky Mountain Deaf School 1921 Youngfield St., #204 Golden, CO 80401

Closing date

Completed applications must be received on or before February 1, 2013. Applications will be pre-screened before candidates are invited for an interview.

Rocky Mountain Deaf School is an Equal Opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, disability, or genetic information.

For Further Questions, contact:
Alison Talbert, Business Manager
Rocky Mountain Deaf School
Email: alison@rmdeafschool.net
303-984-5749 (v)
720-235-0565 (VP)

SEND APPLICATION PACKETS TO:
Nancy Bridenbaugh, Interim Director
Rocky Mountain Deaf School
1921 Youngfield St #204
Golden, Colorado 80401

 

http://www.rmdeafschool.net/

For a related story from Denver’s CBS affiliate, go here:

http://denver.cbslocal.com/2012/08/04/some-lakewood-residents-want-to-stop-deaf-school-from-being-built/

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.

 

What’s Going On?

By BitcoDavid

Well, I’m feeling pretty good about myself. Today, December 19th, the New York Times reported on the city of Oaxaca, Mexico’s use of Deaf officers to monitor the city’s surveillance cameras. But DeafInPrison.com reported on this story on Oct. 25. That’s right. The Gray Lady – the paper that broke Watergate and the disaster in Kampuchea – has been officially scooped. We here at the massive DeafInPrison Plaza complex, are elated at this turn of events.

Here’s the link:

www.nytimes.com/2012/12/19/world/americas/deaf-officers-keep-watch-over-crime-in-oaxaca.htm

***

According to San Antonio TV’s Kens5.com, Texas is rethinking their policy on sentencing offenders to state jails.

A new report argues that state jails aren’t meeting their goal of helping to reduce crime by intensively treating short-term, nonviolent inmates, and it recommends that judges no longer be able to sentence felons to state jails without a rehabilitation plan.

The report, published Monday by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank, says that those convicted of nonviolent felonies and normally sentenced to months in a state-operated jail should instead be released with community supervision. That can include treatment programs, community service, strictly enforced probation conditions and the threat of incarceration if certain conditions are violated. The report’s suggestions were based on recent data concerning the number of felons who commit crimes after being released from state jails.

http://www.kens5.com/news/Report–181883611.html

***

In their Science section, Dec. 12, the NY Times published the stories of 4 inmates who were serving life without parole – all for drug related charges.

Of the 140,000 prisoners serving life sentences in the United States, about 41,000 have no chance at parole, a result of laws that eliminated parole in the federal system and for many state prisoners. These rules, along with the mandatory sentences decreed for some crimes and some repeat offenders, were intended to make punishment both stricter and fairer, but judges complain that the rigid formulas too often result in injustice. Here are four prisoners sentenced to life without parole by judges who did not believe the punishment fit the crime.

www.nytimes.com/2012/12/12/science/life-without-parole-four-inmates-stories.html

***

AnotherBoomerBlog posted some bad news and some good news. Marsha Graham will be closing her law office, but she won’t be giving up on helping the Deaf and the wrongly convicted.

Among other projects, she plans on starting a blogsite that will compliment and augment DeafInPrison.com.

We welcome her efforts and look forward to tons of informative and enlightening posts.

Readers of DeafInPrison.com are already familiar with Marsha’s work, and know she’s already done great things for this site. Her new site promises to be amazing, and I can’t wait to be of any help to her I can.

Go here to read her post, and it wouldn’t kill ya to give her a “Like.”

http://anotherboomerblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/when-good-things-happen-to-bad-people

***

Speaking of Marsha Graham, she sent me the following via e-mail:

The unseen world of pretrial detention – in which most local jail inmates are held because they can't afford bail – is the cover story topic of the Dec. 17, 2012 issue of The Christian Science Monitor Weekly magazine. Richard Ross/AP/File

The unseen world of pretrial detention – in which most local jail inmates are held because they can’t afford bail – is the cover story topic of the Dec. 17, 2012 issue of The Christian Science Monitor Weekly magazine.
Richard Ross/AP/File

In Jailed Without Conviction – Behind Bars for Lack of Money, the Christian Science Monitor reports:

About 10 million people are jailed each year for crimes large and small. Most – two-thirds of the 750,000 in jail on any given day – stay long periods without conviction at great cost to the public and to themselves because they can’t afford bail.

Here’s the link. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2012/1216/Jailed-without-conviction-Behind-bars-for-lack-of-money

Also in their op-ed section was a piece on relieving the overcrowding in our prisons:

http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2012/0118/Four-ways-to-relieve-overcrowded-prisons/Revamp-habitual-offender-laws

***

And Finally, there’s this. Also via Marsha Graham, from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Myth: Mass shootings are on the rise.
Reality: Over the past three decades, there has been an average of 20 mass shootings a year in the United States, each with at least four victims killed by gunfire. Occasionally, and mostly by sheer coincidence, several episodes have been clustered closely in time. Over all, however, there has not been an upward trajectory. To the contrary, the real growth has been in the style and pervasiveness of news-media coverage, thanks in large part to technological advances in reporting.

Myth: Mass murderers snap and kill indiscriminately.
Reality: Mass murderers typically plan their assaults for days, weeks, or months. They are deliberate in preparing their missions and determined to follow through, no matter what impediments are placed in their path.

Myth: Enhanced background checks will keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of these madmen.
Reality: Most mass murderers do not have criminal records or a history of psychiatric hospitalization. They would not be disqualified from purchasing their weapons legally. Certainly, people cannot be denied their Second Amendment rights just because they look strange or act in an odd manner. Besides, mass killers could always find an alternative way of securing the needed weaponry, even if they had to steal from family members or friends.

Myth: Restoring the federal ban on assault weapons will prevent these horrible crimes.
Reality: The overwhelming majority of mass murderers use firearms that would not be restricted by an assault-weapons ban. In fact, semiautomatic handguns are far more prevalent in mass shootings. Of course, limiting the size of ammunition clips would at least force a gunman to pause to reload or switch weapons.

Myth: Greater attention and response to the telltale warning signs will allow us to identify would-be mass killers before they act.
Reality: While there are some common features in the profile of a mass murderer (depression, resentment, social isolation, tendency to blame others for their misfortunes, fascination with violence, and interest in weaponry), those characteristics are all fairly prevalent in the general population. Any attempt to predict would produce many false positives. Actually, the telltale warning signs come into clear focus only after the deadly deed.

Myth: Widening the availability of mental-health services and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness will allow unstable individuals to get the treatment they need.
Reality: With their tendency to externalize blame and see themselves as victims of mistreatment, mass murderers perceive the problem to be in others, not themselves. They would generally resist attempts to encourage them to seek help. And, besides, our constant references to mass murderers as “wackos” or “sickos” don’t do much to destigmatize the mentally ill.

Myth: Increasing security in schools and other places will deter mass murder.
Reality: Most security measures will serve only as a minor inconvenience for those who are dead set on mass murder. If anything, excessive security and a fortress-like environment serve as a constant reminder of danger and vulnerability.

Myth: Students need to be prepared for the worst by participating in lockdown drills.
Reality: Lockdown drills can be very traumatizing, especially for young children. Also, it is questionable whether they would recall those lessons amid the hysteria associated with an actual shooting. The faculty and staff need to be adequately trained, and the kids just advised to listen to instructions. Schools should take the same low-key approach to the unlikely event of a shooting as the airlines do to the unlikely event of a crash. Passengers aren’t drilled in evacuation procedures but can assume the crew is sufficiently trained.

Myth: Expanding “right to carry” provisions will deter mass killers or at least stop them in their tracks and reduce the body counts.
Reality: Mass killers are often described by surviving witnesses as being relaxed and calm during their rampages, owing to their level of planning. In contrast, the rest of us are taken by surprise and respond frantically. A sudden and wild shootout involving the assailant and citizens armed with concealed weapons would potentially catch countless innocent victims in the crossfire.

Myth: We just need to enforce existing gun laws as well as increase the threat of the death penalty.
Reality: Mass killers typically expect to die, usually by their own hand or else by first responders. Nothing in the way of prosecution or punishment would divert them from their missions. They are ready to leave their miserable existence, but want some payback first.

In the immediate aftermath of the Newtown school shootings, there seems to be great momentum to establish policies and procedures designed to make us all safer. Sensible gun laws, affordable mental-health care, and reasonable security measures are all worthwhile, and would enhance the well being of millions of Americans. We shouldn’t, however, expect such efforts to take a big bite out of mass murder. Of course, a nibble or two would be reason enough.

James Alan Fox is the Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy at Northeastern University and the author of Violence and Security on Campus: From Preschool Through College (Praeger, 2010).

So, all this should keep you busy for a while. Enjoy.

DEAF NOT

DEAF NOT (Photo credit: Deaf RED Bear)

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.

 

 

 

I am Adam Lanza’s Mother

By BitcoDavid

I’ve got just 2 words for Liza Long, who published this brilliant piece in the Blue Review.

Nailed it.

“They told me I could wear these,” he insisted. “You’re a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!”

“You can’t wear whatever pants you want to,” I said, my tone affable, reasonable. “And you definitely cannot call me a stupid bitch. You’re grounded from electronics for the rest of the day. Now get in the car, and I will take you to school.”

I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

Ms. Long is parent to a mentally ill child. In her case, the child suffers extreme mood swings, going from sweet and contrite to vicious and violent. The beautiful little boy in the picture above has attacked her with a knife, and threatened to jump from a moving car.

A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan—they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn’t have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.

We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He’s been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.

Due to a career sacrifice, “Michael” at least receives treatment. Ms. Long was forced to abandon her plans as a freelancer and take a job that offered mental health coverage. Care that Adam Lanza, Harris and Klebold, Jason Holmes and countless others never got. It is for this reason, and this reason alone, that we may never have to worry about Michael growing up to become the next Trenchcoat Mafia killer.

Here’s the link to her profound and extremely well written article:

http://thebluereview.org/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother/

While we’re struggling to come to grips with the tragedy of Sandy Hook – and again beating the dead horse of gun control – we need to begin to examine how we deal with this nation’s mentally ill. Now I’m not going to say that we don’t need some kind of sensible legislation regarding our national obsession with guns, and the fact that anyone can obtain what is essentially a weapon of mass destruction with less effort than adopting a dog. I’m merely saying that the guns are a symptom of something bigger. Our complete unwillingness to help each other – to work together for the common good.

Our approach to mental illness is to either pickle their brains with chemical lobotomies, ignore them altogether, or warehouse them in our prisons. These people need help. Help is expensive. Help is costly. But until they get our help – unconditionally and unilaterally – we’re going to have a lot more Sandy Hooks.

An Intratec TEC-DC9 with 32-round magazine; a ...

An Intratec TEC-DC9 with 32-round magazine; a semi-automatic pistol formerly classified as an Assault Weapon under Federal Law. (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.

 

Nowhere Man In Nowhere Land

By Jean F. Andrews

John Lennon’s sad lyrics in “Nowhere Man In Nowhere Land,” resonate in the life of Junius Wilson (1908-2001). Wilson was a Black Deaf man who was incarcerated for a rape he did not commit. His first six years at the State Hospital for the Colored Insane developed into a total of 76 years. During this time, he was surgically castrated . Back then, deaf and disabled people in jails and mental hospitals were considered “undesirables.” Even when Wilson was found to be mentally competent in the 1960’s, he was still held in the mental hospital because hospital staff did not know where to send him.

As a “nowhere man” invisibility surrounded Wilson for his whole life with hearing people. Born deaf in 1908 to a hearing family, his parents did not know how to communicate with him. They struggled with their deaf son’s anger and frustration.

But Wilson’s “nowhere man” status changed in 1916. At this time, at the age of 8, he entered the North Carolina School for the Colored Deaf and Blind in Raleigh, the first school for Blacks in the U.S. Here he learned a language—the Black deaf sign language or “Raleigh Black signs.” Through storytelling, folklore, humor passed down from deaf peers and adults in the Black deaf community, he acquired language. Here he learned and used “black signs” that are different than “white signs,” as Black deaf persons were segregated from White Deaf persons.

At the Black Deaf school, Wilson was “Somewhere.” He found his Black Deaf identity as he was immersed in a community of people like him. He found his “home” at the deaf school. Now he was “visible” to his peers and the adults around him. He could express his wants, desires and feelings.

But all this abruptly changed in 1924. As a student, he went to the fair in town and did not come back when he was supposed to, disobeying his supervisors. He was a teenager, expressing his independence and rebelling against the tight rules of the school. For this infraction, the school’s response was harsh. Wilson was expelled.

http://ifp.nyu.edu/category/history/page/3/

North Carolina State Hospital for the Negro Insane
http://ifp.nyu.edu/category/history/page/3/

His “nowhere man” status returned as he was back home with his family. Being an independent teenager, he frequently rebelled. He exploded in anger and frustration because none of his family knew sign language or understood him.
In 1925 he was accused of attempting to rape his cousin and found to be insane at a lunacy hearing. There was no interpreter present to get his side of the story. No one was there to assess his mental competence. He entered “nowhere land,” again when he was committed to the North Carolina’s State Hospital for the colored insane in 1925. The hearing hospital culture and community did not recognize Wilson’s language or Black deaf culture.

Indeed, Wilson’s deafness and disability made him the “nowhere man in nowhere land,” his status for much of his life. He was forced to work on the farm at the State hospital doing for decades doing what others wanted him to do. His education, his potential, everything he had to create his own life with his own aspirations and dreams were taken from him. While incarcerated, he could not hear what the others were ordering him to do. He could not communicate with the other inmates. His deaf cultural behaviors of touching and tapping people may have been misunderstood.

Chart showing number of sterilizations in North Carolina From 1928 to 1983.http://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/NC/NC.html

Chart showing number of sterilizations in North Carolina From 1928 to 1983.
http://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/NC/NC.html

In 1932, he was surgically castrated as many other inmates who were considered criminally insane, mentally deficient, sexually perverted and deaf and dumb. Institutions were practicing eugenics. Thus the stereotypes of people with disabilities as being “oversexed,” or “animalistic,” were prevalent, as explained by Susan Burch and Hannah Joyner, in their book, “Unspeakable: The Story of Junius Wilson.”

In 1960, the staff at the hospital realized that Wilson was not insane but they did not know how to bring him back into society. His lifetime at the hospital had made him dependent and vulnerable without language or an education. Finally, in the 1990’s, the social worker John Wasson found out that he was not insane and lawsuits resulted.

The lawsuits resulted in a house, a driver and a pension for Wilson. According to Wilson’s biographer’s Burch and Joyner, he lived out his life still at the hospital but in his own private cottage with his own private chauffer to take him shopping and to town.

Given an education, opportunity, language and immersion in the Deaf community, Wilson may have made a very different life than the one he lived out at the mental hospital. He may have been a “somewhere man” is a “somewhere land.” He could have learned a trade, got married, had children, and developed hobbies. He could have “had a point of view,” and his world could have been “under his command.” He would have reaped the benefits all of us do such as having an education, interests, opportunity, and support networks of family, friends and community to realize our potential.

Even though Wilson lived during a different historical time faced with such issues as Jim Crow segregation, eugenics and institutionalization, injustices for deaf inmates are still prevalent today. Indeed, there are many deaf inmates who are “nowhere man”, deprived of their Deaf culture, community and language during their arrests, bookings and incarcerations. They are in “the “nowhere land” of police stations, jails and prisons without have the same access to information and services that hearing inmates have.

Source: Susan Burch & Hannah Joyner (2007). Unspeakable: The Story of Junius Wilson. Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press.

Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.

Further Reading:

https://www.google.com/search?q=Unspeakable%3A+The+Story+of+Junius+Wilson

 

The Cost of Solitary Confinement – From NY Times

By BitcoDavid

* A moment to mourn the victims of today’s school shooting in Connecticut. *

The New York Legislature greatly improved the treatment of mentally ill inmates in 2008, when it required the prison system to place seriously mentally ill inmates who violate rules into a treatment program instead of solitary confinement, where they were more likely to harm themselves or commit suicide.

www.nytimes.com/2012/12/14/opinion/the-cost-of-solitary-confinement.htm

Solitary confinement

Solitary confinement (Photo credit: Chris.Gray)

When it comes to the science of torture, there is no nation as expert as North Korea. They literally wrote the book on the subject, during the 1950s. The North Koreans regularly used systematic torture on American POWs during that conflict.  What the North Koreans discovered was that no form of punishment was more effective in breaking the minds and spirits of their victims, than solitary confinement.

Men who could withstand electric shock, beatings and other forms of coercion that sane people can’t even comprehend, would cry like babies after only a few weeks of solitary.

The Times article continues:

A lawsuit filed last week by The New York Civil Liberties Union, however, suggests that the system is still misusing punitive isolation, not just for some of the mentally ill, but for a broad range of the system’s 55,000 inmates.

Most prison systems use isolation selectively, singling out violent people who present a danger to guards and other inmates. The lawsuit asserts that New York uses isolation as routine punishment for minor, nonviolent offenses — more than any other system in the country.

Regardless of how horrific a form of punishment this is, I chose this article because the only way to get Americans to stop doing something bad, is to hand them the bill. This lawsuit does just that.

The plaintiff in the suit, Leroy Peoples, is a 30-year-old with a history of mental illness who was twice sentenced to solitary confinement. In 2005, he was sentenced to six months for “unauthorized possession of nutritional supplements” that were available for sale in the prison commissary. In 2009, he was sentenced to three years in isolation for having unauthorized legal materials.

According to court documents, between 2007 and 2011, the state imposed 70,000 isolation sentences for offenses like having an “untidy cell or person,” or for “littering,” “unfastened long hair” or an “unreported illness.” On any given day, about 4,300 of the system’s inmates are locked down for 23 hours a day in tiny concrete cells, many of them destined to remain there for years. As additional punishment, prison officials can deny food, exercise, bedding or showers.

The suit charges that New York’s system is arbitrary and, therefore, unconstitutional. It also suggests that African-American inmates are more often banished to isolation, and for longer periods of time, than inmates from other racial groups. However the court decides this case, it seems clear that New York’s isolation policy is inhumane and counterproductive, requiring clearer guidelines from the Legislature as to when isolation can and cannot be used.

See the original article here:

www.nytimes.com/2012/12/14/opinion/the-cost-of-solitary-confinement.htm

The notorious "Block 15" in the 1950...

The notorious “Block 15″ in the 1950s. Built before the war as a military prison, it became the camp’s strict solitary confinement building. Cramped conditions, absence of basic sanitation, isolation from the outside world and the guards’ brutality affected the inmates’ health and sanity. (Greek) Haidari Municipality: Block 15 (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.

Help End the Felony Murder Rule

By BitcoDavid

A Follower on FaceBook brought this petition to our attention.

http://www.causes.com/actions/1696694

They bring up the following points:

The felony murder rule operates as a matter of law upon proof of the intent to commit a felony to relieve the prosecution of its burden of proving intent to kill, which is a necessary element of murder.

The intention to commit a felony does not equal the intention to kill, nor is the intention to commit a felony, by itself, sufficient to establish a charge of murder.

The felony murder rule erodes the relation between criminal liability and moral culpability in that it punishes all homicides in the commission, or attempted commission, of the proscribed felonies, whether intentional, unintentional, or accidental, without proving the relation between the homicide and the perpetrator’s state of mind.

Under the felony murder rule, the defendant’s state of mind is irrelevant. Because intent is a characterization of a particular state of mind with respect to a killing, felony murder bears little resemblance to the offense of murder except in name. First-degree murder is an arbitrary assignment.

Holding one or many criminally liable for the bad results of an act which differs greatly from the intended results is based on a concept of culpability which is totally at odds with the general principles of jurisprudence.

It is fundamentally unfair and in violation of basic principles of individual criminal culpability to hold one felon liable for the unforeseen and un-agreed to results of another felon’s action.

The basic rule of culpability is further violated when felony murder is categorized as first-degree murder because all other first-degree murders (carrying equal punishment) require a showing of premeditation, deliberation and willfulness, while felony murder only requires a showing of intent to do the underlying felony.

The purpose of creating degrees of murder is to punish with increased severity the more culpable forms of murder, but an accidental killing during the commission or attempted commission of a felony is punished more severely than a second-degree murder.

While the felony murder rule survives in Tennessee, Virginia, Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, West Virginia, Indiana, California and other states, the numerous modifications and restrictions of it by some states’ courts and legislatures throughout the United States reflect dissatisfaction with the basic harshness and injustice of the doctrine and call into question its continued existence.

The felony murder rule can be used by prosecutors in a manner so as to cause grossly disproportionate sentencing, depending on the circumstances of each individual case.

The felony murder rule is probably unconstitutional because presumption of innocence is thrown to the winds. The prosecution needs only to prove intent to commit the underlying felony; that
done, first degree-murder becomes part and parcel of the underlying felony because intent to commit murder does not have to be proved.

The felony murder rule is probably unconstitutional because in some cases it violates the Eighth Amendment: cruel and unusual punishment, grossly disproportionate to the crime(s) actually
committed.

The felony murder rule holds unequally involved parties equally accountable and punishable. Again, cruel and unusual punishment if you’re only the lookout for a robber who happens to kill in the process of the robbery.

they deserved it

they deserved it (Photo credit: Will Lion)

The felony murder rule violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of due process because no defense is allowed on the charge of first-degree murder, only the underlying felony.

The felony murder rule bears no rational relationship or equity in its two penalties, with the penalties of other murder laws, including, at times, the charge of first-degree murder.

It is no longer acceptable to equate the intent to commit a felony with the intent to kill.

Believe it or not, the American Justice System was created to keep people out of prison. The concept of innocent until proven guilty, The right to protection against self incrimination, and The 8th Amendment – all speak to the American concept of fair play, the dread of incarceration and our aversion to cruel and unusual punishment.

What could possibly be crueler than to Imprison a teenager for life – for merely being present at the scene of a crime. Maybe he was driving the car. Maybe he was the lookout. Should he be punished? Yes, of course. But can we, in good conscience, allow one stupid moment – one adolescent lapse of judgement – to cost him his entire life?

Please consider signing this petition at: http://www.causes.com/actions/1696694

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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