When Will They Ever Learn…

By Jean F. Andrews

In their popular 1960’s folk song, Peter, Paul and Mary sing the ballad, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” In the ballad, is the echoing refrain, “When Will They Ever Learn,” that points a firm finger at a society engaged in the Viet Nam War, wondering sadly, Where have all the flowers, soldiers and graveyards gone?  This sweet refrain, can also be applied to the many police departments across the country in Florida, Texas, North Carolina and Colorado who repeatedly refuse to give deaf suspects and inmates sign language interpreters during questioning as well as during important events during the arrest and jail intake, processing, orientation and during needed educational and rehabilitation services. Consequently, across the country, police departments have repeated lost legal cases and have had to pay hefty settlements costing the tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mary Travers' obituary page. Examiner.com

Mary Travers’ obituary page. Examiner.com

There is an easy solution.

Simply make it the police department policy to do the following as recommended by the Department of Justice.

A police officer, upon discovering an individual is deaf, by law, must offer the individual an opportunity to request a sign language interpreter. One way the officer may do so is by providing the deaf individual with a visual representation (illustrated below) allowing the deaf individual to make a choice. It depicts the ADA recognized symbol for sign language and includes two hands signing “yes” and “no”. The deaf individual can select “yes” or “no” by pointing to, circling, or signing the choice.

Picture in when Will They Ever Learn.doc

Deaf individuals too would be wise to copy this visual and keep in their wallet in the event they are stopped by a policeman.

 

 

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

Deaf Suspect Gets Settlement

By Jean F. Andrews

Englewood, Co.

English: A Video Interpreter sign used at vide...

The Video Interpreter symbol. Photo: Wikipedia

On August 13, 2011, William Lawrence was arrested for an outstanding warrant. Lawrence has been Deaf since birth and had diminished English capability. He was handcuffed and questioned with no interpreter present. Lawrence went several days, unable to communicate with anyone, and didn’t receive an interpreter until he was eventually transferred to Jefferson County Jail.

Englewood police used hand written notes, and spoke to his roommate as their methods of communicating with Lawrence, both of which are inadequate and violations of the ADA.

The settlement amount is undisclosed, but a condition of the settlement is that Englewood Police Department is now required to provide a certified ASL interpreter to Deaf suspects during arrest and questioning.

Englewood Police Department has made no statement but conditions for the settlement cleared them of any wrongdoing or further liability.

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

My 1st incounter with l.a.’z finest

By Moorbey

[ Editor's Note: Moorbey'z Blog has been an asset and a help to DeafInPrison.com. He has graciously offered to provide us with this Supporter Contribution post. I have left it in his own unique writing style, and have added only some images. I see his writing style as the literary equivalent of what graffiti is to visual art. If graffiti is how the people paint, then - love it or hate it - this may be how they write. Nonetheless, this is a powerful and tragic story, and it deserves your attention. --BitcoDavid]

It waz summertime we had just moved in a brand new house in a upper middle class white neighborhood. Momz sent me age 10 to the store and my 2 brotherz age 9 and the baby of the boyz age 7, came along so we could play some space invaderz at the 7-11 which just happened to be 2 1/2 blockz away from home.

We purchase the itemz that momz wanted and we played space invaders 4 about and hour and we started walking back to the house. We get 1 1/2 block from the house and we see a black & white cruise by uz and all of a sudden they whip a U-turn and cut uz off. Now we have grocery bag in hand and we are just walkin and talkin. The 1st officer sayz what are u doing in this neighborhood. My baby brutha sayz we are coming from 7-11.
Cop #2 sayz niggerz can’t afford to live in this area, so we must have ran away from tha Boy’z home that iz 3 milez away. So I sayz  take uz around tha corner and speak with our mom. Cop #1 sayz that iz not our job and out of the clear blue he slapz tha baby.

Now we have been taught a fair fight iz a fair fight, do not ever let an adult put handz on u unless they are family or a friend of tha family. So it waz on. We did our best to break this cop off but now we are just some happy kidz digging life until this life changing experience. Cop #2 makez a call on tha radio officer in distress call an within minutez 3 other unitz appear. They handcuff uz and start to beat on uz like we are grown men.

Now at this point we have been gone 4 about 3 hourz,and popz comez home from the golf course and momz sayz go find tha boyz they been gone to long.
He goes to 7-11 and they tell him we have been gone 4 hourz and pullz over to talk to copz and noticez we are bloodied, bruised and in the back seat of separate squad carz on the way to tha infamous Rampart Division Station. Popz goes to get momz to head down to tha station, they take a good look at uz and popz loses it and he iz arrested. Momz had to bail him out. I had never seen my momz cry till that day. Chargez were dropped against everyone except me. I had 3 felony chargez of assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest at 10 yearz old.
***
You can see more of Moorbey’s work at Moorbey’z Blog.
–If you tremble with indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine.”Let’s be realistic, let’s do the impossible” Ernesto “Che” Guevara

There But For the Grace of God…

By BitcoDavid

Picture this. You’re on your way somewhere, when a police cruiser comes speeding up from behind you, and lunges up onto the sidewalk, cutting you off. Just as you stop in your tracks, another cruiser does the same maneuver, behind you. A third, boxes you in by stopping curbside, on your left. In unison, the cops jump out of their cruisers, guns drawn, and yelling. “Freeze! Get on the ground! Face Down!”

Website delivered a "404." Unable to cite photo credit.

Website delivered a “404.” Unable to cite photo credit.

You’re standing there, completely stunned and unable to move – unable, even to make sense of their commands. “I said get down! Get down on the ground NOW!” You hear one say, “if you don’t lie down you scumbag, I’ll blow you in half!”

“What’s going on, Officers? What did I do?”

“Shut up! Shut up and lie down or we’ll shoot!”

You lie down. Face down on the frigid sidewalk – you lie down.

“What did I do?” You feel one large man sit on top of you, his knee digging into your back. Your arms are violently pulled behind you, and with crystal clarity, you hear the ratcheting click of the cuffs as they lock into place.

Nobody has told you anything. Nobody has even asked your name. Someone or some thing is droning out your Miranda rights. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say, can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to…”

“… Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?”

“I didn’t do anything. I don’t want a lawyer. I don’t want to remain silent. I didn’t do anything.”

“Just answer yes or no. Do you understand your rights?”

Defeated even before the bell, you nod your assent, accompanied with a croaked out, “yes.”

Now you’re in the back of a police cruiser. The only clear memory you have is how much it hurt when they picked you up from the ground, by pulling at your cuffed arms. A searing scorch shot through your shoulders and upper back. You thought they were pulling your arms out from the sockets.

“Can you at least tell me what I did?” You ask, as the cruiser rolls on for what seems like hours.

“Please sit back and be quiet, sir. You’ll get all that information.” You hear him lean over and say to his partner, “God, I hate the talkie ones.”

News coverage showing the number of arrests in one day in one county in Florida.http://baycountypress.com/2013/01/29/arrest-logs-and-mug-shots-for-bay-county-florida-jan-28-29-2013/

News coverage showing 40 arrests in one day in one county in Florida, 12 of which were drug related.
http://baycountypress.com/2013/01/29/arrest-logs-and-mug-shots-for-bay-county-florida-jan-28-29-2013/

A few more jokes, and good-natured conversation between them – as though you didn’t exist at all – and you’re at your first booking destination. You’re walked past rows of desks and computers, and finally placed in a cell. “Turn around,” somebody barks, and through a small slot in the barred door, your cuffs are finally removed. You feel like you just got off the Rack. Your only thought is how grateful you are to have those cuffs off.

Scared yet? If you’re a young Black male, in an urban environment, you stand a 1 in 4 chance of this happening to you.

You’re alone. You’re alone and although this nightmare has only just begun, you’re already broken. You’d say or do anything, if you thought it would help end this.

One of the cops – you recognize him. He more or less took the point on your arrest – keeps coming back to your cell and asking you pointless questions. “How old are you?” “What kind of car do you own?” “Do you live alone?” Finally, at one of his stops, you ask him, “Hey, can I go to the bathroom?”

“Gimme a few minutes, and we’ll get someone to take care of that for you.”

You wait for what seems like another hour. Finally, someone comes and tells you to turn around for cuffing. “I have to go to the bathroom,” you say as he clicks the cuffs home, and unlocks the cell door. “Yeah, yeah. We’ll get you there. Just be patient and don’t make any trouble.”

He brings you to a desk, where he removes one of the cuffs and locks it to an eyelet. You’re chained to this desk. After about 10 minutes, another officer shows up. Moving like a glacier, he takes a form out of a drawer and inserts it into a 1960s vintage, whirring and clanking, typewriter. “Name.” It’s not a question. It’s a monosyllabic utterance, drenched in boredom. You give him your name.

After you’ve given this man your address, your phone number, your identifiable marks and tattoos and the name of the first girl you ever got to 2nd with, you tell him that the other officer promised, you could go to the bathroom. He looks askance at you – his face, silently calling you a pain in the ass – and gestures to another officer. This one takes the cuff out of the eyelet, and walks you down the hall to a large lavatory. He leaves the one cuff on your wrist, but lets you go in, alone.

It’s been a good 4 hours since you were arrested.

After you’re done in the bathroom, you’re brought back to the cell. Still, no one has told you what you’re being charged with, or given you any pertinent information. To them, this is all business as usual, but to you, it’s the scariest day of your life. A simple nugget of friendly information might go a long way toward assuaging that fear.

More time passes. Eventually, someone comes, cuffs you up again and puts you in a van. You’re on your way to your second booking destination.

Entrance and egress is provided through back doors and special causeways, so you don’t even know the addresses of the places their pin-balling you in and out of. Now you’re in a much larger facility – a holding pen of some sort. Other people are in there with you. You’re actually more scared of them than you are of the cops, so you just sit quietly in your little corner and wait. They are all doing the same.

It’s now been 8 full hours since you were arrested. You’re tired, hungry, lonely, cold and afraid. Your Wallet, cellphone, car keys, watch and other personal effects were all taken from you. Your belt and shoes were taken from you. You’ve been given some foam rubber slippers, and other than pants, shirt and underwear, you have nothing. A cop comes to the door of the pen and barks out your name. You stand up, and he tells you, “You’ve been ID-ed. You’re moving into interrogation.”

Here’s where you get your proverbial one phone call. He takes you – cuffed – into a room with a large number of pay phones. He removes one of the cuffs and clicks it into another eyelet, this one anchored to the phone stall. He hands you a coin, sufficient for a 3-minute local call. Not knowing any alternative that makes sense, you call your BFF. In response to her natural question, you yell to the four winds, “Hey, where am I?” “_______________ County detention facility. _____________ ____________ Street,” someone replies from the ether. After you hang up, you wait for someone to come and unchain you from the phone.

You’re stripped, cavity searched, and issued an orange jumpsuit. You’re put in a small, ill-lit, windowless room with a large mirror on one wall. Other than 2 chairs and the table you are chained to, there is nothing in the room. You wait.

You wait.

Finally, a team of interrogators comes into the room.

It seems, the more they talk – the more trouble you’re in. They deluge you with questions, show you mountains of unrecognizable photographs, badger you and accuse you. They tag team you with the good cop/bad cop routine. They threaten you with unfathomable torments, and try to convince you that confession is your only hope. They lie to you. They use your own body’s physical needs, such as food and sleep, as weapons against you. They eat in front of you, and drink coffee. They blow cigarette smoke in your face. It may be 12, 13 even 14 hours since you’ve had anything to eat. Sign this, and we’ll go get you a sandwich.

You don’t sign. Not because you’re some sort of staunch individualist who knows that his own innocence will eventually win out, but because you don’t have a clue what the hell they’re talking about. On the way back to your newest cell, they – jokingly – threaten to throw you down a flight of concrete stairs.

It’s Friday night. The earliest you can be arraigned is Monday afternoon.

The arraignment isn’t your day in court, your chance to stand up and speak on your behalf – while a deeply committed, and brilliant country lawyer snaps his suspenders, and challenges a jury. It’s 15 minutes of people using a foreign language to speak about you in 3rd party dissociation.

At the end, bail is set. 250,000 dollars. Of course, you only have to pay 10% of that. Do you have 25 grand? No. So back to jail you go. You’re awaiting trial. Six months – maybe a year. You’re in jail, you haven’t been tried, and you’re innocent of crime.

If you’re a young Black male living in a major city,  the likelihood of your serving time at some point in your life is 28% . If you’re a young male of any ethnicity and poor, you are 150 times more likely to be arrested than if you’re wealthy.

Next time you post to an Internet site, about how prisoners wouldn’t be there if they didn’t do something to deserve it, I hope you think about my little story, here.

Now, as horrific and Kafkaesque as this story reads, try – just try – to imagine what it would be like, if you were Deaf.

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.

 

Let the Taser do the Talking, Or…

By BitcoDavid

Did you know that practically every police cruiser in this country is equipped with an on-board computer with a webcam and wireless Internet capability? Did you further know that Video Relay Services exist, virtually all across the Internet?

Imagine this scenario.

A young Deaf woman is a victim of domestic abuse. Her husband storms out of the house in a rage, giving her a few precious moments to call for aid. She uses the Relay service and calls 911. The Relay operator informs the 911 operator that the caller is Deaf, and the 911 operator passes that information onto the police dispatcher. The dispatcher puts out the 273-D call, and a cruiser is dispatched to the victim’s home.

The police dispatcher is allowed to assign the car, and give the code – a brevity that goes back to the ancient paradigm of 2-way communications. The codes were created to give the officers all the information they would need as they approached a given situation. The only thing it doesn’t tell them is that the victim is Deaf.

Upon their arrival, the victim – seeing the familiar 2 tone car as her salvation – bolts out her front door, waving her arms and screaming.

“Stop!” The police officers shout at her. She doesn’t stop, because she can’t hear them. Out come the tasers and down goes this poor woman. After they secure the scene, they have her cuffed up and sitting in the back of their cruiser – none the better for wear.

“I think she’s either stoned or retarded,” one of the officers says, trying to make some sense of her Deaf-speak. Finally, they determine that she’s deaf. Now’s where they hand her the torn cover of a match book and a broken pen. “Here. Write what you need to say.”

But if Glinda, the Good Witch, could wave her magic wand…

A young Deaf woman is a victim of domestic abuse. Her husband storms out of the house in a rage, giving her a few precious moments to call for aid. She uses the Relay service and calls 911. The Relay operator informs the 911 operator that the caller is Deaf, and the 911 operator passes that information onto the police dispatcher. The dispatcher clicks a mouse which opens a window on her computer. She quickly punches in a few radio buttons, one of which tells the officers that the victim’s  Deaf, and that the call came in via a particular Relay service.

English: A Video Interpreter sign used at vide...

A Video Interpreter sign used at videophone stations in public places where a Deaf, Hard-Of-Hearing or Speech-Impaired can communicate with a hearing person via a Video Relay Service. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The service in question has been automatically alerted – by the dispatch computer – to await a police call. The officers have been trained in the handful of necessary ASL signs – Stop; What’s your name; Do you live here; Do you have any weapons, etc., and since they go in, knowing she’s Deaf, they know they will need at least these few basic signs. They also know that they need to approach the house in a way that will not limit her ability to see them. No bright lights in her eyes, etc.

Sans Taser, they take her calmly to the cruiser where the terp is patiently waiting – online – to straighten the whole thing out.

How’d that be?

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.

An Excellent Video From DeafInc

By BitcoDavid

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

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

Felix’s Story Serialized Pt. 1

By Pat Bliss

As many of you know, I have been publishing a series on arrest and subsequent trial of Felix Garcia on DeafInPrison.com. It has been available in standard HTML format on my pages, Bliss-1 and Bliss-2 – with future pages yet to be posted. However, our editor, BitcoDavid has recently devised a way that PDF media can be viewed on the site without having to click through. He is making many upgrades to this site, and among them will be the phasing out of these back pages. We have decided that this story belongs on the main scroll, and with his help, I’ve been able to post this first 15 page section of the series.

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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