Top Criminal Justice Degrees Shares Infographic

By BitcoDavid

Flatfoots
Source: TopCriminalJusticeDegrees.org

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.

Open Letter to Florida Clemency Board

By Joanne Greenberg

Dear Clemency Board,

Felix Garcia celebrating his GED in 1984 Courtesy Pat Bliss. From Mother Jones Magazine.

Felix Garcia celebrating his GED in 1984 Courtesy Pat Bliss.
From Mother Jones Magazine.

I have been interested in the Felix Garcia case, for the last few years, and I have seen all of the material from that case, including the 2 hours of video interview on DeafInPrison.com. I know that he has exhausted his legal opportunities, but because there is a strong probability that Felix is not guilty of the crime for which he is charged, I am afraid that when he comes up for parole, he will not state that he is remorseful. And this will deny him parole.

Most recent photo of Felix with Pat Bliss.  Image credit Pat Bliss

Most recent photo of Felix with Pat Bliss.
Image credit Pat Bliss

However, nothing stands in the way of Felix’s being freed as an act of clemency. He’s already served a monumental sentence, but he has been able to create a life for himself, that will be useful and positive – on the outside. He will be able to do good things for himself and for the community in general; and especially for the Deaf community, which needs what Felix has to offer.

If we have any faith in rehabilitation, we certainly see rehabilitation in Felix’s case.

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.

Six Factors for Linguistic Incompetence

 By Jean F. Andrews
Deborah Parkin - Susan Spiritus Gallery

Deborah Parkin – Susan Spiritus Gallery

I’ve been in court, when both judges and prosecuting attorneys were not familiar with the term linguistic incompetence, and how it related to a deaf defendant’s case. They were familiar with the term, mental incompetence. Mental incompetence is defined as the inability is of a person to make or carry out important decisions, or is psychotic or of an unsound mind, either consistently or sporadically, by reason of mental disabilities such as cognitive disabilities, schizophrenia, and dementia.

But linguistic incompetence or the lack of language ability to understand the court proceedings or inability to have the language to even work with one’s attorney baffles the court. Attorneys often will request competency hearings prior to a trial or a hearing to address the issue of linguistic incompetence of the deaf defendant head on. This is wise to get this issue out in the open.

Justine Beckett - Artshole.co.uk

Justine Beckett – Artshole.co.uk

These six factors may clarify for attorneys, judges and other court officials about the term, linguistic incompetence. Since deafness is a low incident disability, most juridical officials may never have encountered a deaf defendant. But today we are seeing more and more deaf persons involved with legal matters so this information may be useful and helpful in a future case.

The first factor contributing to linguistic incompetence is the lack of early, consistent and fluent sign language. Many of us are familiar with Victor, the Wild Child of Averyron who was found in the woods in France, in 1797. He was a teenager and had no language. Or we may have read about Genie, a girl who was strapped to a potty seat and locked in a closet until she was rescued in later childhood. Both Victor and Genie were not able to learn much language even after years of training. But their lack of language access was combined with emotional and physical neglect and abuse. Similar to Victor and Genie, there are many deaf persons who by nature of their deafness are physically isolated from daily communication and language. These modern day closet deaf adults, by nature of their parents not learning to sign or only learning a few basic signs and gestures, grow up severely language impoverished. Consequently, they are not able to defend themselves in court.

Jan Brewer signs bill on use of school isolation rooms. Az Capitol Times

Jan Brewer signs bill on use of school isolation rooms. Az Capitol Times

A second major factor contributing to linguistic incompetence is the poor educational training many deaf children and youth experience in our public schools. Inclusion, or the mainstreaming and including of deaf children with hearing children, has been termed the “great delusion.” Many children leave these schools with an inferior education, and inability to communicate in sign or in English. Because residential schools provide a rich linguistic and cultural environment, many of these schools do a better job of providing round-the-clock language access, however most parents use residential schools as a last resort, sending their deaf youth there when they reach the teenage years, after they have already failed out in the public schools.

A third major contributory factor to linguistic incompetence stems from the isolation that families impose on deaf youth, by keeping them sheltered and isolated at home, without additional training and education. This happens more frequently in Third World countries. However, in my clinical practice, I have come across about 10 such deaf adults, more often who live in rural areas. Though well intended, their families keep their deaf adult child at home, live off of their SSI, and create an even more isolated environment where the deaf adults live without language, and are prevented from getting the skills to learn a job or become independent.

A fourth major contributing factor to linguistic incompetence is the 2.9 or below reading grade level. The ability to read is related to language, type of instruction, and motivation. Many of these linguistically incompetent deaf adults can’t read and this creates major obstacles from the arrest, the booking, the trial and on through rehabilitation.

E. Gibson Photography - DeviantArt.com

E. Gibson Photography – DeviantArt.com

The presence of a language and learning disability in addition to deafness, is the fifth contributing factor to linguistic incompetence. Some of the deaf adults that I have tested, could very well have an undiagnosed sign language disability in addition to their low reading levels. Most have average non-verbal intelligence abilities, but some do not. Their non-verbal IQ dips below 80 which signals low cognitive skills.

Finally, the sixth major contributing factor to linguistic incompetence is poor, underdeveloped sign language skills, that would not allow them to effectively use a sign language interpreter or even a CDI (Certified Deaf Interpreter).

These six factors can inform the judge, prosecuting attorneys, defense attorneys and other criminal justice officials. What is at stake here are the Constitutional Rights of the deaf defendant. Understanding the deaf defendant and linguistic incompetence will provide the court system with the understanding of the obstacles that deaf defendants face.

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

50 Ways to Use the Internet

By Jean F. Andrews

Map of uunet global Internet backbone. Image: Manchester AC

Map of uunet global Internet backbone.
Image: Manchester AC

In collaboration with a deaf inmate, we put together 50 different ways to use the Internet. For a deaf person, the Internet is a necessity not a luxury as it is for hearing people, who have the option of using the audio-cell phone.  Banning deaf persons who are released from prison, from using the Internet is a cruel and inhumane penalty that smacks of retribution rather than rehabilitation. It also makes no sense in terms of trying to rehabilitate and integrate the deaf person back into his or her family, the workforce or even society in general. With today’s technology of computer data loggers and tracking methods, restrictions and safeguards can be imposed. These insure that the individual’s devices cannot be used inappropriately. But to flat-out forbid the total use of technological devices for released deaf criminal offenders is counterproductive and unjust as well as contrary to our goals of rehabilitation.

"Traceroute" is a tool that tracks the "hops" made by electronic communications. Image: Isoc.org

Traceroute is a tool that tracks the hops made by electronic communications. Image: Isoc.org

1.     refilling medications

2.     making reservations

3.     finding phone numbers

4.     finding addresses

5.     finding emails

6.     paying bills

7.     checking weather

8.     joining support groups

9.     checking bank account

10.  research

11.  ordering a pizza

12.  ordering flowers

13.  ordering books

14.  checking out books from a library

15.  contacting friends

16.  tracking shipping items

17.  seeking other advice

18.  access to online manuals

19.  contacting family

20.  making appointments

21.  filing taxes

22.  looking up recipes

23.  searching for apartments

24.  finding jobs

25.  contacting work

26.  finding coupons

27.  renting movies

28.  connecting to cable services

29.  reading the newspaper

30.  taking online courses

31.   filing out online applications

32.  checking activity schedules

33.  filing social security

34.  purchasing from online stores

35.  checking store sales

36.  contacting stores for help

37.  conducting phone interviews.

38.  Researching medications

39.  contacting ministers

40.  contacting church schedules

41.  applying for credit cards

42.  learning how to fix household appliances

43.  contacting funeral homes

44.  checking for weather alerts (i.e. hurricanes, tornadoes)

45.  contacting police

46.  contacting lawyer

47.  looking up vocabulary

48.  locating bus, train, plane schedules and delays

49.  buying museum tickets

50.  buying sports events tickets on line

[Editor's Note: Having been professionally involved with the Internet since the BBS days of the mid-1980s, it is not without a certain personal pride, that I state the above 50 uses are but a drop in the bucket. The Internet offers life saving and life enhancing uses to us all, but most significantly, to the Deaf. The advent of smart phones and tablets have further unchained us from our desks, and now Deaf people can enjoy almost literally the same access to services as can the hearing. Through ASL and the Internet, it is possible that the entire world will soon, no longer view deafness as a disability at all.

Also please note: HEARD's #DeafInPrison link to the screening of Al Jazeera America's excellent documentary is now live. It will only be available for viewing, this weekend.  Please take a few minutes to watch this entertaining and informative broadcast, and then post your support and impressions on your social media channels, using the hashtag - #DeafInPrison. Here' s the link: http://www.facebook.com/l/QAQHw5OiQ/bit.ly/DeafPrisoners

--BitcoDavid]

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

Why Isn’t Felix Free by Now?

By Pat Bliss

Felix could say he cried out for help to anyone who would listen. Ever since he found out – after arriving in prison and  having the trial transcripts read to him by his cell mate – that his sister testified against him. All the time thinking, during the trial she was helping him, because he could not discern the words spoken by the witnesses, while testifying. Felix relied on his attorney, when he would ask him, “What are they saying?”  “Everything will be OK,” the lawyer would say. He also saw his brother Frank come into the courtroom, and was told he pled the fifth and that is why he didn’t testify – nor help him go home. Felix did not know what Frank had said in his own trial a year earlier.

Felix could say that he relied on a prison law clerk’s advice when he got Frank’s first affidavit in 1989. It stated that Frank killed the victim, that Tina and Ray participated in the crime and that he, Felix, was completely innocent. The law clerk misfiled that document and it was sent back to Felix. Felix thought the regular letter from the Judge was a denial and he put the affidavit in a box, only to be remembered again in 1997 when I took his case. Felix could only read at an elementary level at that time.

You could say his legal team made a wrong decision in 1999 by withdrawing the second affidavit from Frank. In all honesty the team were under the impression the deaf issue (6th Amendment violation) was valid, as it was allowed to proceed to the Evidentiary Hearing. They did not know the Judge, and the State, already knew it was going to be stricken. Due to a turn of events, it was not the right time to present the new evidence. Time proved that.  But alas, this court action was denied.

You could say that it took too long for the inmates – to whom Frank confessed that he put his innocent younger brother in prison, so he could avoid the death penalty – to send in their affidavits. Eventually many of them were transferred to where Felix was. Most had never met Felix before. A couple of the inmates had – over the years – been in the same prison with Felix, but they never knew each other. When they met Felix, and remembered what Frank had told them, they felt obligated to write affidavits of what they heard. These came to me between 2002-2004.

You could say that at the 2006 Evidentiary Hearing, where Frank confessed to Felix’s innocence, and how Felix got tangled into the crime by Frank making him sign a pawn ticket, that the Court got it wrong, by not believing Frank’s confession. The Court did not say it didn’t believe the confession. The Order stated it did not believe Frank,  because Frank had lied at his own trial in 1982. He lied to his attorney, to the jury, and to the Judge – making him not credible in the eyes of the Court. Frank’s whole testimony was tossed out. And the appeal was unsuccessful, without an opinion. It closed the door for any more appellate procedures on the case both in state and federal court.

But I  suggest that the Courts, nor the State want to concede they have convicted an innocent man. This is not a DNA case. If it was, it would be over by now. The jury got it wrong. There was no consideration for the time factors and defense witnesses. The Judge got it wrong. Felix’s trial attorney could have done better, but he did what he could to alert the court of his client’s limited ability to help in his own defense. And he asked not to proceed to trial. The Judge knew Felix had a hearing problem, he could have ordered a sign interpreter. This case though, was unique in 1983.  Now we are in 2014.  The Governor has the authority to right that wrong – if he wants to and so far he doesn’t. And Felix’s sister, Tina – in May of this year – had her chance to right the wrong, and help her younger brother, Felix. She chose not to. We can’t blame her, really. There is no statute of limitations on a murder case, and she has enjoyed her freedom these 32+ years.

In a nutshell, this is why Felix is still in prison. Publicity helps draw attention, which can be invaluable, but it cannot get anyone out of prison. There are only three ways that can happen 1) the case goes back to court on some issue that is viable or 2) the Governor and Clemency Cabinet grants clemency or 3) the Parole Board grants parole.  Our next proceeding is the Parole Board hearing, possibly in January of 2015. The efforts of the legal team are in full force to make this third avenue a reality –  your support inspires us.  Thank you.

–Pat Bliss

Pat Bliss is a retired paralegal in criminal law. She continues to do legal work for indigent prisoner cases showing innocence. She is a Certified Community Chaplain, Certified as a volunteer for CISM (Crises Intervention Stress Management) and involved in community events.

Banned From Using the Internet?

By Jean F. Andrews

What if you are deaf, serve time in prison and are released with the stipulation that you are banned from using a cell phone or the Internet? Could you survive?

Yes, but with great difficulty.

English: VodafoneEgypt role in cell phone/Inte...

VodafoneEgypt role in cell phone/Internet blackout (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did you know that some released deaf inmates are banned from cell phone use and the Internet? This is a typical punishment for deaf persons who have committed crimes such as viewing child pornography online even though they may have never solicited a minor online or met a minor through online interaction.

Computer and cell phone technology is a luxury for hearing people. But for deaf persons, computer technology is a necessity for safety and survival as well as for daily communication needs in a world of hearing people who do not know sign language.

As hearing persons, you and I can pick up the cell phone and call our spouses, children, colleagues or doctors or contact an emergency service (911) with a simple voice-call on the telephone. This is not so for deaf persons who cannot hear or speak. Deaf people like do use cell phone technology as we do but instead rely on texting and use of a special online relay operator.

English: A Deaf, Hard-Of-Hearing or Speech-Imp...

A Deaf person at her workplace, communicating with a hearing person via a Video Interpreter, using a webcam and a program on her computer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While you and I can also ask any hearing-speaking persons around us for assistance if we need it, this is not so for deaf people. Deafness is a devastating physical condition that isolates deaf people from hearing society because few hearing people know sign language. The Internet has been a miracle for deaf users because it opens the doors to communication in a hearing world and provides access through texting, videoconferencing and online relay operators. With the Internet, they can access signing relay operators who act as go-betweens between the deaf world and the hearing-speaking world. Or they can communicate directly with deaf friends using cell phone or computer Internet videoconferencing.

English: A cell phone tower in Palatine, Illin...

A cell phone tower in Palatine, Illinois, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For deaf people to adapt to every day life, they must use the internet to communicate with family, doctors, offices, make phone calls through an online relay operator who translates their signs into text messages for others, for job searches, for emergency purposes, and so on.

Judges and prosecuting attorneys may not know how the deaf person uses texting and online relay services for their everyday life.

In fact, the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act provides protection for telephone use for deaf individuals. Because auditory cell phones excludes deaf persons from using them, they are entitled to accommodations such as cell phones for texting and use of the Internet for online relay operators.

Today, there is software available that can be placed on the released deaf criminal offender’s computer or text cell phone that will monitor his or her use of the computer, Internet and cell phone texting.

Deaf persons should not be denied cell phone, texting device and computer use with the Internet. For deaf people, the internet is a necessity, not a luxury as it is for hearing persons.

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

My Ship, Out on the Horizon

By BitcoDavid

English: MS Majesty of the Seas, one of Royal ...

MS Majesty of the Seas, one of Royal Caribbean International’s Sovereign class cruise ships (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let me tell you a story. Years ago, when I had a business, building and repairing audio equipment for musicians and recording studios, I received a call.

[Ring, ring.]

“Thank you for calling Bitco Electronics. May I help you?”

“Yes, this is John Smith from Norwegian Cruise Lines…”

“No thanks. We’re all set.” [Click]

[Ring, ring]

“Thank you for calling Bitco Electronics. May I help you?”

“Don’t hang up.”

“Look pal, I’m not interested in any stupid free cruises or whatever pie-in-the-sky you’re selling.”

“No, you don’t understand. I’m calling in regards to one of our ships. We have a unit called a Mackie 8 bus that’s in need of repair.”

English: Studio A control room at SugarHill Re...

Studio A control room at SugarHill Recording Studios, Houston Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thus the adventure began. You see, cruise ships can’t bring equipment to repair shops, due to Customs issues. Repair shops must go to the cruise ships. I had managed somehow, to land Norwegian Cruise Lines as a client, and would now spend a significant amount of my time on a ship. The Norwegian Majesty to be precise. Well, it was one of the most educational experiences I’ve ever had. Everything you know about anything is the exact opposite of how it is on a ship.

English: a view of the Black Falcon Cruise Ter...

View of the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal at the Port of Boston taken from the Norwegian Majesty cruise ship leaving port. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For example. I’m standing literally right next to the thing, as it’s docked in Black Falcon Pier in Boston. I mean, I can hit it with a rock. But, in order to get on board, I needed to call an escort. Well, that meant that I had to call the Bahamas. They in turn, would contact a Ship to Shore Service who would relay my message to the boat. A 50 foot call, cost me 30 dollars, and took 15 minutes to place.

In fact, the work of working on a ship is more work than the work you’re doing on the ship. It requires an act of Congress just to go to the bathroom.

Mackie 8 bus with Meter Bridge attachment. Image credit: Gearslutz.com

Mackie 8 bus with Meter Bridge attachment. Image credit: Gearslutz.com

The theater where the Mackie was located was absolutely gorgeous. Quite possibly the best professional sound system I’d ever worked on. And when I was done, the whole system howled like a hurricane and growled like a grizzly bear.

But in the midst of all this revelry – as I was doing my final calibrations – some guy in an overly starched white uniform came and told me I had to disembark, as the ship was about to turn around. “So, turn around. I’m almost done.”

“No, you don’t understand. You can’t be here when we turn the ship. Only crew are allowed on board when she turns. You need to wait on the pier.”

[Civilian sigh of frustration] “OK. I’ll wait.”

Here's an idea of the size of structure, we're talking about. Image courtesy: ShipCruise.org

Here’s an idea of the size of structure, we’re talking about. Image courtesy: ShipCruise.org

Well, here’s what I didn’t know. I’m thinking they’ll turn the thing around. I turn my car around all the time. Jack, when he’s getting ready for bed, turns around. Hell, I’ve even turned around a few trucks. What’s the big deal?

Neither my car, Jack nor even the trucks, were one and a half times the length of a football field – that’s what. In order for non-American cruise ships to turn around, they have to go out past the 12 mile limit. Do you know, I waited from 3:00 in the afternoon, ’till 1:00 in the morning. How am I going to bill these guys for 10 hours of standing around an abandoned pier?

Wow! Fascinating story BitcoDavid. And you write so well. But, what the hell does any of this have to do with DeafInPrison.com?

At one point, I happened to espy the ship – 12 miles out to sea. It looked so tiny. So helpless. A forlorn little dot, bobbing around like a cork, in the vastness of the Atlantic. That image never left me, and I recall it every time I hear the phrase, when my ship comes in.

Well dear readers, DeafInPrison.com’s ship is about to come in. We today, celebrate our 75,000th view. Since our launch, just over 2 years ago, 75,000 of you have seen our work. Well an unknown number of you have seen our work 75,000 times – anyway. We’ve been viewed at least once in 134 different countries. We’ve generated over 5000 click-throughs to other sites. We’ve posted 515 articles. And through all sources, we have over 1100 followers.

Our next milestone will be 100,000 views. That’s very important, because that’s the magic number that Google needs to see us as a real  Web site. When we get to 100K, we’ll be barking in the tall grass with the big dogs.

There are 2 other ways you can help us to achieve World domination. “Like” our page on FaceBook. We have 320 Likes so far, and we need 500. And of course, help us finish, and finally close the longest lived petition to free Felix Garcia – in Internet history. We are almost around the bend. Our ship is out at the 12 mile limit. A mere 125 more signatures would get us there.

But all these things are about ambition. I’m thrilled that we’ve had what limited success we’ve had. 75,000 views! Who’d a thunk it?

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.

Had to Share

By BitcoDavid

God’ll get me for this, but I had to share it with you. This appeared on FaceBook, yesterday.

But that’s not the funny part. The first comment was…

“Governor Scott!”

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.

Get Off Your Bicycle and Throw Something

By BitcoDavid

Blog Machine

Blog Machine (Photo credit: digitalrob70)

Ahh. It’s June at last. Summer – or Spring – or something other than an Arctic freeze – is finally here. Of course Felix Garcia still rots in prison, and the War on Drugs still rages. False confession still abounds, and Waitstaff still hand Braille menus to Deaf patrons.

As most of you know, when I’m not creating awesome Internet content, flawless videos and heart rending prose – and when I’m not creating tons of free product for FaceBook – I enjoy climbing into a ring, with nail-eating fire-breathers, and taking a beating.

BDavLogo1Same holds true with DeafInPrison.com. I like a good, verbal three-rounder here, as well. So, as I have done so often in the past, I’m asking for a bitch-slap. I want someone to step up. A lawyer, a Corrections officer or even a cop. Tell me how wrong I am. How wrong we all are. We want to hear from you. We want the other side to our story.

On February 26, 2013, I published a post entitled, On the Boren-Thomas Case. I invite you to click on the link, and pay particular attention to the last comment. It’s a heart-stopper and an eye-opener.

That guy - lying on the floor? That'd be me.

That guy – lying on the floor? That’d be me.

That’s the type of thing I’m looking for. Only instead of doing it as a comment, why not do it as a Supporter Contribution? Submit it and I’ll publish it. I’ll edit it, add graphics and give it the full respect it deserves.

So come on. The gauntlet has been thrown. Give me your written rebuttals, and I’ll put them up. If you prefer, you can remain anonymous. Many professionals in law enforcement don’t want to write about what they do, for fear of alienation in their workplace. I’ve also been told that some Justice system professionals will only discuss these issues with other professionals. How are we, the public, expected to learn, if you won’t share your point of view?

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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“Felix Garcia” Music Video

By BitcoDavid

VLC wmv

VLC wmv (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been nearly a month since I’ve posted anything. I’ve been working my – two baseballs in a sock – skinny, White butt off, on this video. As promised to you, back in January, we took Heather Hardy’s song and created this video.

I even had to drive all the way to East Overshoe, Maine - one of those, ya can’t get theyah from heah places, for some of the footage.

I hope you enjoy the fruits of my efforts, and those of Ms. Hardy, without whom, none of this would have been possible. And moreover, I hope this helps reignite your passions in the case of Felix Garcia, an innocent Deaf man, who’s wrongfully served 32 years, thus far, of a life sentence.

Some tech details:

6 video tracks, 4 overlay tracks, 11 stereo audio tracks. Edited on Serif MoviePlus X-6, and Audacity. Mixed in 1080p / 196KB / 16bit / 44.1Khz, mastered in 720p and presented here for Internet delivery at 512p / 64Kb, .wmv file format.

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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Boston Red Sox to Begin Training in ASL

By BitcoDavid

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

The 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox will begin a program of ASL training for all players, according to principal owner, John Henry. Henry said, “This has nothing to do with communication. It occurred to me and to [team manager] John Farrell, that ASL would be a good way for our players to improve coordination skills and arm strength.”

An intensive program of ASL in conjunction with Ballet and needlepoint is scheduled to begin as early as May 1st. Participation is mandatory, and the association is currently investigating the contractual and legal issues.

“After all, we won the Series last year,” added noted pitcher Jon Lester, “so this year’s kind of a throw-away. I mean, what have we got to lose?”

Not to get caught behind the eight-ball on this, the N.Y. Yankees issued a statement that all players will now train with dark glasses, earmuffs and a cork in their mouths, while music from The Who’s Tommy will be blasted from the P.A.

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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The Struggle of the Deaf in Prison

By BitcoDavid

Image: Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia

Deep beneath Colorado’s Cheyenne Mountain – recently renamed Mt. BitcoDavid – lies the DeafInPrison.com complex. Here, thousands of worker bees  – wearing black suits, dark sunglasses and coiled thingies in their ears – drive around in blacked-out Chevy Suburbans, and labor tirelessly to bring you the best in Internet content.

Recently they received a communique from the Silent Grapevine, requesting a supporter contribution. Here is BitcoDavid’s response to that request:

The Struggle of the Deaf in Prison

By
BitcoDavid

All three elements of interaction with the Justice system, directly affect the Deaf in far different ways than they do the Hearing.

1) Arrest: The goal of police during an arrest is to take physical custody of a suspect. Their only concern is discovering hidden weapons, and preventing escape. There is little opportunity for communication during this phase, and an ability of the suspect to follow orders is essential. When a cop holding his gun, yells “get down or I’ll shoot,” you need to get down. If you can’t understand that command, you’re in immediate danger. Many Deaf sacrifice their Constitutional rights, due to lack of understanding the Miranda warning. A written card containing the Miranda rights is useless, because many Deaf have limited reading ability.

The interrogation phase of arrest is equally fraught with communicational failings. Many Deaf, in order to fit in, or to expedite an uncomfortable situation, will respond to questioning by smile and nod. This leads Hearing to believe that the Deaf understand what is going on, even when they don’t. Finally, out of fear and exhaustion, the suspects will often confess to things they didn’t do. After 12, 24, possibly even 48 hours of grueling questions – none of which they can hear or understand – they confess.

2) Court proceedings and trial: Here, an interpreter is essential, but is often denied. An example is the now 33-year-old case of Felix Garcia, the man that DeafInPrison.com is working to pardon. On numerous occasions, the judge would ask Felix if he could hear. For reasons that he himself isn’t completely clear on, he would answer in the affirmative. In the end, all they did was turn the speakers all the way up, causing Felix great pain, but not aiding at all in his ability to hear the accusations and evidence against him.

If a Deaf defendant is at all likely to have the benefit of a qualified ASL interpreter, it is during the trial phase. However, interpreters cost money that states are loath to spend. They will invariably try to find cost cutting methods of getting things done. Why add to an already expensive trial if you can prove that no interpreter is required?

3) Incarceration: It is here that the Deaf suffer most. It is here as well, that competent interpreters are most necessary, and least often made available. There have been cases reported of Deaf inmates not reporting for Count, because the order is verbal. Failure to report for Count can result in serious punishment such as Solitary Confinement. The same situation exists with Mess. Often, Deaf inmates go without being fed, because they are unaware that it’s time to eat.

The biggest problem for the Deaf in America’s prisons is violence and rape. Deaf people cannot hear whispers and muttering. They can’t hear people coming up behind them, and they have difficulty in reporting such activities. They struggle receiving medical care, because they can’t hear the doctors and nurses, therefore may not be as able to take part in their therapy, or in filling prescriptions, as can their Hearing counterparts. Conversely, they are less able to describe symptoms or to otherwise aid in their diagnoses.

The number of prisons and jails that offer onsite interpreters for these situations is relatively small – even in these days of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Furthermore, even if interpreters are available, the inmate must request one before the appointment.

Guards often see Deaf inmates as troublemakers. Nothing gets under a Corrections Officer’s skin, as much as a special request or need. When you’re in charge of 1000 or more individuals, the last thing you want to hear is inmate XYZ needs an interpreter.

We can address and eliminate these issues with a small amount of effort.

Every police cruiser in this country is equipped with onboard computers and WiFi. Police should learn how to use video relay via the Internet. Deaf suspects can be brought to the cruiser, where they would be able to offer a defense against arrest, and at the same time, be informed as to why they’re being arrested and what is expected of them.

Detectives need to conduct interrogations with interpreters present. If costs and availability were an issue, again, Internet interpreters and video relay would do the trick.

The responsibility for determining a defendant’s ability to aid in his own defense should no longer be the purview of judges and attorneys. The court should consult with an audiologist if there is any question as to a defendant’s competency.

Prisons and jails would need to make three significant changes. First, interpreters should be full-time on all shifts, and available. Inmates shouldn’t have to go through official channels to request an interpreter. Secondly, institutions need to house Deaf inmates in separate dorms, fully equipped to meet their needs. Finally, Deaf and bilingual (English/ASL) guards would be greatly beneficial.

Lastly, of course, if ASL were offered in all public schools, colleges and trade schools, individuals – law enforcement and otherwise – would be able to communicate with the Deaf, and would be able to reap the many advantages of learning Sign.

Image: Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia

My gratitude and appreciation to Silent Grapevine for this opportunity.

Also, don’t forget that the #KeepASLinSchools video is done and can be seen here and here. Felix’s case is garnering much needed attention, thanks to the efforts of Sachs Media Group who is still maintaining their petition, here. Please take a minute to sign – even if you’ve already signed ours. It is critically important. And thank you all, for your continued support.

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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Press Release on Felix Garcia Case

By BitcoDavid

Photo: Hundreds rallied at the Florida Capitol today! Help Felix Garcia by signing the Change.org petition. http://bit.ly/FreeFelix

Rally at Florida State Capitol for SB1304 and HB1125 – and for Clemency for Felix. Image: Sachs Media Group

Below, you can see a copy of the press release that Sachs Media Group sent out to all the major players in both the national and local media. DeafInPrison.com is not only proud of our efforts to free Felix Garcia, but we are also quite flattered that Sachs Media included us in that distribution. New York Times – we take our place at your table. Pass the biscuits, please.

Again, this is a press release. So, no pictures. That’s why I embedded it, rather than pasting it into this article. But it is the first press release we’ve ever received. In the words of Faith Hill, “I still like to wear my old ball cap – ride my kids around piggy-back.”

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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Deaf Bill of Rights act in Georgia

By Supporter Contributor Frank James John Lala, Jr., Ph.D.

 

Here’s the linked Ruling via embedded PDF.

 

For more reading by Frank James John Lala Jr. Ph.D. see the link below.

http://www.amazon.com/Counseling-Substance-Abuser-Frank-James/dp/0966375300

Keynote Speaker at the World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf on Mental Health Issues (1999), and author of, “Counseling the Deaf Substance Abuser”. Dr. Frank Lala, recipient of Gallaudet University’s prestigious Laurent Clerc Award by Dr. I. King Jordan in recognition for the work in mental health and substance abuse. Author has both School Smarts (Education/Degrees) and Street Smarts (Experience/Harsh Childhood that gives him Survival Skills, Character, and Perspectives on Life)

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#KeepASLInSchools Video Finally Done!

By BitcoDavid

It was like the 7 labors of Hercules!

All kidding aside, it was a great project and I am proud and happy to have been a part of it. So, without further ado…

As I am working more and more with Sign now, I’m learning some of the significant differences between ASL and English. In video, the most significant difference is speed. I have learned that even Native Signers cannot communicate at the same speed as oral speakers. Most videos have a video track and an audio track. In some cases you will also have a narration track and perhaps a musical soundtrack. In the case of this particular video, we had a video track, a narration track, a musical soundtrack and a captioned overlay track.

Chipmunk

Chipmunk (Photo credit: ogwen)

now you can generally speed-up or slow-down the video tracks, but the audio tracks have to maintain the speed they were recorded in, or they will change pitch. Radically, in fact. Preteen girls sound like grizzled old men, and grizzled old men sound like Alvin’s Chipmunks. (In fact, that’s the secret behind those chipmunk voices.) Oh, and don’t think you can rely on things like Pitch Shifters or Autotune to fix these problems, either. They won’t work.

English: David R Ferguson Audio Engineer

David R Ferguson Audio Engineer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, the point is, when putting together a video, you start with the audio tracks and build around them, not the other way round. Great, but the audio tracks in this case are naturally 1 and 1/2 to 2 times the speed of the signed video tracks. Soooo, it was a lot of fun at the ol’ BitcoDavid audiovisual research lab.

Anyway, it’s all done and I sincerely hope you like it – and perhaps learn a little something from it.

My heartfelt thanks go out to Monica Hood of DeafInsight and all those who contributed to the project.

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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Is the U.S. Becoming a Police State?

By BitcoDavid

police_state

The above infographic was made by SecurityHub.com, and sent to me via e-mail. the full sized original can be viewed, Here. Please comment. I would be interested to know if our readers agree or disagree.

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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Dogs Serving Time in Prison – Temporarily

By Pat Bliss

English: Golden retriever puppy, three months ...

Golden retriever puppy, three months old. (Daisy Parker) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is not a normal posting about deaf prisoners, but my friend BitcoDavid is an avid dog lover so I have combined the two. These dogs inside prisons are trained to be service dogs for wheelchair people, autistic children, PTSD vets and facility dogs for hospitals and nursing homes. They come from New Horizons Service Dogs Inc. in Orlando, FL. I keep in touch with a Florida prisoner who trains these service dogs and Jeff has some very interesting insight that I would like to share.

I think the best way to tell you about how a dog and prisoner interact in a prison cell, is to just relate what Jeff said in his letters. He began this program in early 2012. I had told him – when he was telling me about it – that I am sure dozens of prisoners are going to want to do it. His answer was, “believe it or not, very few are interested. They like dogs, like to play, feed, and pet them but don’t love them enough, where they want to live with them, clean up  behind them or groom them.”  Jeff said it is a full time job, from 5:30 AM until 10:30 AM, seven days a week and he said very few prisoners are dedicated to it.

Jeff loves dogs, always had them before prison, so this is something he loves. The first dog he was given was a 9-week-old purebred black lab puppy.  Jeff relates:

“This dog of mine is a shadow even to wanting to get in the shower with me and gives me dirty looks when I make him sit or lay outside until I am done. I’m up 3-5 times a night with him to do his duty.  My dog has learned a few commands so far, but he thinks it’s a game and wants to play all the time. When I stop the playing he must learn it is a partnership between me and him and I am boss! But he is so clumsy and comical. At the same time we got a couple other dogs that were abused and under nourished so we got them ready to go back out. It’s sad how anyone could abuse such a lovable and dedicated dogs as these.”

Jeff was telling me that the owners were coming to see how the dogs perform. As Jeff stated:

“I was very embarrassed, as all [dog's name] did was cry the whole time and when it came to us for a demonstration he did nothing! Whether it was stage fright and a room full of strange people and dogs, who knows. I took him down to the VP [visiting park] two days later and he preformed like a champion for the sergeant over the dog program. My dog was taken out 3 weeks ago for socialization so I don’t know if I’ll see him again. We clicked good together. The first set of dogs were with the guys from puppies for 18 months. Now they rotate the dogs every 4 months, so once you bond to a dog, he or she is gone!”

English: Golden Retriever dog (canis lupus fam...

Golden Retriever dog (canis lupus familiaris), resting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Next Jeff had a “female yellow lab for several months that was then taken to team training to try to get her placed with an autistic child. At team training the prospective people who are to get the dogs are with the dog and trainers to get used to them and obey the new prospective owners.” Jeff was told, “about 65% make it (dogs trained in prison) and the rest wash out of the program and go as partially trained pets to veterans or as comfort dogs to places who need them.”

The yellow lab is gone and now came a male Golden Retriever, 17 months old and 95 lbs. This is what Jeff said:

“Thank God he doesn’t pull on the leash! He’s a lover and live teddy bear. He’s been with a puppy raiser the whole time and they taught him next to nothing, so at his age now it will be interesting to see what he will learn. I don’t think he even got out to play as he didn’t even know what a ball was or how to play with other dogs. These last 10 days he’s having lots of fun playing with the other dogs here, chasing and retrieving balls, playing tug with me and other dogs. It has really changed his personality. I think all he did was eat and lay up in the AC before. His ears were so dirty you could plant a garden in them and lots of fur balls and knots all over him. However, this dog is a lot of fun but he is quite possessive. Can’t be out of his sight more than a minute or two or he starts to bark.”

That Golden Retriever has gone on to better things and now Jeff has another one.

“A beautiful, deep reddish blonde Golden Retriever, he is 18 months old – who makes me miss and appreciate my last dog. This dog is loving and beautiful but one pain in the butt. He was with a puppy raiser for 17 months, then spent 2 months at another prison, with its trainers 1 week, then on to me. This dog is super hyper[active], always pacing up, off and under the bed constantly and always into something. He seems to never run out of gas and sleep. I was on the phone the other day and came back and he ate a dirty sock and part of a cleaning sponge with Ajax and bleach on it. Needless to say he got a good cleaning out for about 3 1/2 days. He’s about 80 lbs and pulls on the leash like a freight train and lunges at birds constantly. My arms should be about 2 inches longer by now. He has already chewed through 4 leashes. When I open the kennel, he runs under the bed and I need to drag him out. And when you correct him, he just glares and leers at you and pays no attention, though he does do his basic commands. I can tell by his habits that whoever had him was gone all day as a bowl of food and water will last all day and he only picks at it but after 5:00 pm he eats and drinks like crazy. Also the way he jumps on the bed and wants to sleep when I’m not around tells me he did the same and was allowed to where he was those 17 months. He will definitely be a challenge and test of patience.”

Jeff H.

South FL Prison

[Editor's Note: For more on this, go here, here or here. -- BitcoDavid]

Pat Bliss is a retired paralegal in criminal law. She continues to do legal work for indigent prisoner cases showing innocence. She is a Certified Community Chaplain, Certified as a volunteer for CISM (Crises Intervention Stress Management) and involved in community events.

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How to Promote Early Reading Acquisition: First Promote ASL

By Jean F. Andrews

XO Sign Language

XO Sign Language (Photo credit: Wayan Vota)

Reading continues to be one of the major obstacles for deaf adults in obtaining their Constitutional Rights. Reading court and legal documents is next to impossible. Even with a sign language interpreter the concepts are difficult to grasp.

In the ivory tower the debate is whether the reading process is qualitatively similar or qualitatively different than for hearing children. While the jury is still out on this theoretical argument, the reality is that the majority of deaf adults are busy learning two languages throughout their lives.

Learning sign language

Learning sign language (Photo credit: daveynin)

ASL is typically acquired quickly and English – reading and writing – is learned as it is mediated by the visual ASL. This ASL to English process happens too late for many deaf adults. An early ASL /English program is one answer to ensuring early reading acquisition.

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

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Evergreen Dog Bites Baby

By BitcoDavid

This story has nothing to do with our stated mission, but I’m a dog lover who grew up in Evergreen, Co., and I can’t let a national story about both – in synchronicity – go unnoticed.

Of course, in my day, there was no 4700 block of Pine Road. In fact, I don’t think there was a Pine Road at all. When I lived there, Evergreen sported one traffic light. The town is not without its celebrity however. It was the home of John Hinckley, the man who attempted assassinating Ronald Reagan. It was also featured in the Ashley Judd film, Double Jeopardy.

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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Song Tells Felix’s Suffering

By Pat Bliss

Heather Hardy is one of the individuals who wrote our petition for Felix Garcia’s pardon. She recently completed recording the song she wrote to accompany that petition. She is currently seeking an interpreter to facilitate the production of a video of the song, which we will publish here, upon its completion. Until that time, here is the mp3 - audio only – version of the song. Below, find the embedded Word document containing the lyrics.

 

Pat Bliss is a retired paralegal in criminal law. She continues to do legal work for indigent prisoner cases showing innocence. She is a Certified Community Chaplain, Certified as a volunteer for CISM (Crises Intervention Stress Management) and involved in community events.

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