Happy Thanksgiving and Thank You for Reading Us

By BitcoDavid

We’ve been super busy – behind the scenes – here at DeafInPrison.com, so we haven’t been posting as much as I would like. But rest assured that we’re working hard on several projects that will end up as enjoyable and informative content for you – our precious readers. I did however, want to take a minute away from the grind, to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving, and to give my thanks to you – all of you – for the past year and a half’s support and succor. DeafInPrison.com

Felix will be spending yet one more Thankgsiving - alone - in Tomoka.

Felix will be spending yet one more Thanksgiving – alone – in Tomoka.

wouldn’t be what it is, without you.

During today’s festivities, let’s also take a minute to think about those of us for whom this day will most assuredly not be a happy one. The roughly 4 million of us who find themselves – wrongfully or rightfully – on the wrong side of the barbed wire. When the innocent go to prison it’s a travesty, and a tragedy. When the guilty go, it is as punishment, not for punishment. Nelson Mandela said, “No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”

But if you’re Deaf, and in prison – then on this holiday and all others, you are truly alone.

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.

It Takes Time to be an ASL/English Bilingual

By Jean F. Andrews

The sign for Learn. Image: Lifeprint

Learning ASL and English does not happen quickly. It takes time as do all first language and second language learning. Delays in language learning is a fact in many deaf persons’ lives. But it does not have to be. Being deaf does not cause a language delay. It is the lack of access to language in the environment that causes the language delay. According to many studies, having Deaf parents who sign as well as accept their child’s deafness provide the best environment for language learning. According to Dr. David Geeslin, bilingual/bicultural environments that are set up in classrooms replicate the same home environment that Deaf parents provide. In his study at the Indiana School for the deaf, he found that it takes seven or more years for deaf children of hearing parents to show academic growth on standardized achievement tests.

Many Deaf inmates typically have language histories that show they were not signing until junior high or even high school.  Such delays in sign exposure severely restrict their abilities to use an interpreter when working with their attorney or understanding the courtroom proceedings. Simply put, they don’t have the language skills nor the conceptual and world knowledge base accumulated by hearing children through hours and even years of  parent, teacher and peer conversations.

Some prisons have a critical mass of deaf prisoners and have created their own bilingual/bicultural communities within the prisons. But these are few. Judges often ask defense lawyers, how can you get your deaf client linguistically competent to stand trial? An easy answer is; it takes time to be an ASL/English Bilingual.

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

Felix Garcia’s Story: Part 4 in the Series

By Pat Bliss

[Editor's note: This is the 4th installation in our series on the Felix Garcia case. In this segment, Ms. Bliss presents more of the testimony, and points out the contradictions. It is presented in embedded format, and can be viewed in full screen by clicking the link at the bottom. -- 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.

Felix’s Story Serialized Pt. 2

By Pat Bliss

BitcoDavid has been working hard on reformatting these sequences of Felix’s story into PDF files. I hope you enjoy this second installment in our combined effort.

Be sure and check out Felix’s petition. We need your help, freeing this innocent Deaf man.

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

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.

H.E.A.R.D. Public Meeting Event Next Week

By BitcoDavid

http://www.behearddc.org/

Logo image Courtesy of HEARD

Interns will present on their projects involving deaf possibly wrongfully convicted individuals, deaf prisoners & about lobbying the FCC for telecommunication access equality.

Guest organizations: Council for Court Excellence & the Corrections Information Council

We will be in the Library–>LCB112

There are shuttles to/from NoMa and Union Station Metros to Gallaudet University Campus: http://www.gallaudet.edu/Transportation/Shuttle_Bus_Services/Continuous_Shuttle_Schedule.html

Here’s the link to their FaceBook Event page, and this event will also be listed on our Events Page.

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.

H.P. Lovecraft Couldn’t Make This Up

By Pat Bliss

A 1934 issue of Weird Tales, the magazine in which first appeared H.P. Lovecraft's Gothic chiller, Rats in the Walls. Photo: Wikipedia

A 1934 issue of Weird Tales, the magazine in which first appeared, H.P. Lovecraft’s Gothic chiller, Rats in the Walls. Photo: Wikipedia

this is an excerpt from a 26 page letter that I received from a Deaf inmate. It was his story about going to medical, that I last posted. He is in solitary confinement now, for trying to help another inmate. Rather than going into all the details of that, I felt I wanted to share this particular portion of the letter with you.

Further, this place is infested with the mice and rats that I told you about before. In fact its more infested with mice and rats since the last time I told you about it. They have had time to breed. Its so full of mice and rats that you have to stay awake when the lights go out or they will actually crawl up on the bunk with you.

They [the cells] have foot lockers bolted to the walls that set higher then the bottom bunk that almost level with the top bunk that these mice and rats will climb up on, run along the foot lockers and jump off in the bunk where you are laying.

   

Splinter in the 2008 season of TMNT

Splinter in the 2008 season of TMNT (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Me and my cell partner stay up all night when the lights are out to see how many we can kill. We have rat killings. We will take one each of my boots which are heavy and will sit off on the bunk. Be real quiet. Wait for them to start coming in and see if we can hit them with a boot and kill them. So far I have gotten at least one each night. They are quick, I’ll say that for them. Hell, last night I thought I had two I got one then a little while later this one comes off in here. I throughed [throwed] the boot at him he turned sideways from where I hit him. About this time they [DOC] turned the lights on, he was only stunned. I picked up the boot went to hit him with it again. The SOB hunched up his back raised his front two paws and had the hair on this back standing straight up. I thought of Master Splinter the Rat off of Nija Turtles!!
  

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.

The Things We Take for Granted

By Pat Bliss

I Need a Doctor

I Need a Doctor Photo: Wikipedia

 

I get many letters from prisoners that just say they had to go to see a doctor or to medical for some reason. But in this one instance, a deaf prisoner in one of Florida’s prisons gave me an in-depth look as to what a prisoner goes through just to be there for a doctor appointment. These are his words:

I have been on call-out so much with medical with test after test. Seriously I am told to get up at 2:00 A.M. for a blood test, I come back [to my dorm] around 3:00 A.M. Am given a call-out to the main unit for 7:00 A.M. I get on a bus to go the main unit. Sit there to around 1:00 P.M. or 2:00 P.M. to see the Doctor. And do not get on a bus to come back to my dorm until 9:30 P.M. to 1:30 A.M. Any time between 9:00 P.M. to 1:30 A.M.  is when I am put on the bus to come back to my dorm. Several days in a row I have had this process repeat itself with these same time frames. So I have not hardly any sleep at all let alone had time to do anything like read a book. I catch pure hell just trying to get a shower and a hour or two of sleep here and there.

I would say we have nothing to complain about, out here in society when we have to wait a couple hours, if that. It struck me how frustrating it is to be a prisoner. No books, magazines or TV provided to help wile away the time while waiting your turn to see the doctor. Couple that with being deaf – and all that that involves.

– 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.

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

Your Money or Your Life

By Joanne Greenberg

Activism usually means my telling someone what to do for someone else, and it generally involves the transfer of money from one group to another.  The prison system here is fund-starved, but our idea, the one about grouping deaf prisoners together, isn’t costly at all.

Once deaf prisoners in a state system are brought together, all manner of help is available to them. Professional and volunteer attention is much more easily  enlisted for various kinds of help, at no cost to the facility.  Every State has an Association of the deaf. Every State has interest groups which can be enlisted in the work of communication and the improvement of conditions in the prisons.

There are prison writing groups and groups providing religious services and ceremonial items, books etc.   Deaf organizations find visits too difficult and time consuming when those being visited are scattered through the buildings in a facility, or in different prisons in the State.

As things stand now, deaf prisoners are not helped by programs made for hearing prisoners — writing programs, GED Etc. Housing deaf prisoners in one place costs no more and is of great benefit, even involving discipline and control.

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.

Wrongfully Accused; Wrongly Judged; Wrongfully Imprisoned

By Jean F. Andrews

The media has increasing spotlighted suspects who have been wrongfully accused by the police, wrongfully judged by the prosecutor and judge and wrongfully imprisoned for decades. Tony Freemantle in Sunday’s Houston’s Chronicle (Jan 20, 2013) lists a number of reasons for false convictions: 1) prosecutors hide evidence, 2) judges refuse to accept credible witnesses who say the suspect was elsewhere during the crime in question; 3) no DNA evidence is collected or its tampered with and 4) misleading forensic evidence points to the wrong person and 5) inadequate legal representation for the suspect and 6) confessions are ignored from real offender

For deaf suspects, I add — 7) false confessions are taken from a tired, scared and overly compliant suspect and 8) a sign language interpreter is not provided during all the police interrogations. This happened to Stephen Brodie, a deaf man from Dallas, Texas who served 20 years in a Dallas prison for a crime he did not commit. Falsely accused of raping a five year old girl, Brodie reported he was forced to confess to this crime during interrogations with the police officers, of which only during half of interrogations did he have a sign language interpreter. It was reported that Brodie case did not involve DNA, but it was the Texas county’s first exoneration involving a false confession

See journalist Tony Freemantle’s vivid and gripping story, Exonerees: The numbers are small, but the toll is immense—and growing (Sunday, Jan 20, 2013, Houston Chronicle).

[Editor's Note: I did all I could do to find a link to this actual article, but the Houston Chronicle apparently chose not to make it available online. The link below is to the photo-essay, which they did make availble.

--BitcoDavid]

In this special section in the Houston Chronicle, photographer, Billy Smith II provides photographs of the 20 exonerees who were convicted of crimes they did not commit and served time in prison. Some were compensated, some were not, some died in prison. See chron.com/exonerees for more video and photos.
See also (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20017910-504083.html) about Stephen Brodie’s case in Dallas, Texas.

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

An Enlightening FaceBook Exchange

By BitcoDavid

We received this message from a FaceBook follower who – for obvious reasons – asked that I don’t post their name.

Okay so I’m going to be a prison guard myself (maximum security male prison if I get what I want) and am going to be learning ASL over the summer (I have an aunt that is deaf and may be able to spend a month or so with her learning the language and a bit about the culture).

What are some of the things I should be told about before I enter in my career field (currently a student and have a year left until I get my degree in criminal justice). Please help me to prepare, I want to help them when no other guard can. I would also like to point out that I do not claim to understand (nor do I think I will ever) the culture nor mind set of a deaf person (let alone one in prison).

I also will not baby them, but will attempt to treat them in a way that will put them on as even a playing field as their fellow inmates. One thing I was thinking I could do was to flash a light in their cells when it’s time to wake up (they couldn’t hear the door unlocking) or to do something similar if they have a visitor or if they are not hearing a warning that is being verbally stated. Especially if there are multiple inmates that are deaf and a

South Korea tests world's first robot prison guard. Danger, Will Robinson. Danger.http://www.tomsguide.com/us/Prison-Guard-Robot-South-Korea,news-14852.html

South Korea tests world’s first robot prison guard. Danger, Will Robinson. Danger.
http://www.tomsguide.com/us/Prison-Guard-Robot-South-Korea,news-14852.html

limited amount of interpreter/s available. I think it wouldn’t hurt (I’m not going so far as to say that I’d be doing them a favor – which I’m not – but I’d be at least trying to restore some justice to the “justice” system if you know what I mean) if there was someone else on staff that could speak with them. Especially in cases where an interpreter is afraid of physical repercussions from other inmates if the interpreter were to translate an accusation or some such message that would incriminate another inmate.

Sorry about the length. Long story short: What are some of the things I should be told about before I enter in my career field as a prison guard (hopefully maximum security male) that will know (maybe not extensively, but a fair amount) ASL?

Here’s the short answer I replied with.

Well first off, sign up to follow http://deafinprison.com. Learning ASL is a great 1st step. You’ll be in the extreme minority of corrections officers. However – and you’re NOT going to believe this – but I have heard of cases where COs who DID sign, weren’t allowed to use it. Some institutions are afraid it can be used for secret code.The best short answer I can give you – and this applies to all your interactions with inmates, not just the Deaf – is be sensitive to the humanity of your charges. Inmates are people. Some of them may not be GOOD people, while others may possibly be unjustly incarcerated saints – but whichever, they’re still people. Treat people with dignity and respect, and they will always treat you with the same.

I closed by asking for permission to post our interaction, and this was the response.

Also, please ask the readers for their input and suggestions. I’m going to be writing a paper on the subject and would just looove (no sarcasm, I find the subject matter absolutely fascinating) to hear what others have to say. I’ve already spoken with a few interpreters and my thirst for knowledge is nowhere near quenched.

I’ve actually been reading some of the articles on your website and am disgusted that there are guards that would not report the rapes. This is part of the reason why I want to work with the men. There are more instances of rape. I want to be there as a fair guard. I look at corruption as a disgusting human flaw that I will attempt to stay away from. I don’t want to become that person. It makes me sad to think of such a thing.

I want to help in what small way I can, but I need your help to do it. I want to try to be as sincere and to best represent my mind set as best as possible (it was really late last night when I wrote that message). Also, you could just post this message as well, I’d be okay with that. I forgot to mention, I might consider, if I find working with the general population too stressful to work during the grave yard shift, when there are no interpreters and the most common time (or so I’ve been led to believe) for inmates to attempt to commit suicide. If there is no interpreter and one deaf inmate should commit suicide I would want to be there (as probably the only guard that can speak ASL) to get their last message, to see what last words for they may have for loved ones.

In closing this post, I’m going to do what she requested. That is, I put it to you, our readers. Please comment on areas where you believe this person can study that will help them to be the kind of CO they want to be, and someone who can make a difference in our badly broken prison system.

English: Folsom prison

Folsom prison (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.

[Editor's note: While looking for artwork for this post, I discovered two very disturbing trends that I plan on looking into further for future posts. 1) The testing of robotic devices for use as prison guards. 2) Several sources report that becoming a prison guard - especially in California - is now seen as a more desirable career path than pursuing a professional career such as doctor or lawyer.]

 

 

Day 1, Deaf Awareness Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

English: Graphical representation of frequency...

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

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

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

There but for the grace of God, go I.

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

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

An Inmate Letter from Utah – Courtesy of HEARD

This is one of four Inmate Letters I received from HEARD, in my inbox last night. I will be posting them today, as I get them converted and redacted. We need to redact all inmate letters to protect the safety of these brave individuals who speak out against an unfair and unjust system.

Although I get them as PDF files, and reconvert them back into PDF files to post, you lose the ability to see the sticky notes placed on the originals by HEARD. In a way, this is good, because these are internal notations that are not intended for the eyes of the public. On the other hand however, I regret that you can’t see them because they provide insight into just how much great work the people at HEARD are doing for these individuals.

Here’s the first one:

HEARD Utah PDF

Prison Not Always A Downer – Visiting Days

All we hear are the bad, the ugly and depressing times in prison, and true, it is so. But there are happy times, that even the guards will sometimes put on a smile. I have been a visitor to prisons in Florida, North Carolina and California. Visiting days are essentially all the same – full of laughter, hugs, tears and voices. It is the only opportunity friends and family of the incarcerated see each other. A parent bringing children to visit the other parent or grandparent. Lots of catching up to do. I’ve written a lot about deaf inmate Felix Garcia, but for a change, I will describe a visiting day with a prisoner in California.

John is a California inmate who transferred to Florida on a family hardship Interstate Compact Agreement sometime in mid 1990′s. His mother was beginning her illness (which later took her life) and he needed to be close by for her as the man in the family. She needed his support with daily phone calls and weekend visits with her son.  I came to know John via Felix. They were cell mates. In 1999/2000 he was back in California.

In 2004 I flew out to California to see a very dear friend in San Diego. I made prior plans to go see John at the California Mens Colony in San Luis Obispo (for short SLO). My drive from San Diego to San Luis Obispo in my rental car took about 6 hours. SLO is tucked among a few mountains, the Pacific ocean is only 11 miles west and is situated half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It is your medium size community, quite immaculate for the most part, from what I can remember. It is also a university town and home to one of the largest prisons in California.

I drove into town on a Friday, checked into a motel downtown, and drove out to where the prison was so I could determine how long it would take me to get there the next morning and to find out their particular visiting procedures. I was told I need to come early in the  morning to receive a number – the earlier you arrived, the lower your number and the quicker you will get inside when the gate opens at 9 a.m.

On Saturday morning I arrived at 7 a.m. at the gate, the correctional officer gave me a paper ticket – it had #10 on it. He told me to go have breakfast, be back about 8:45 a.m. and be in line according to my number. I was excited at this opportunity to see John as I had not seen him since he left Florida. We kept in touch my mail, though, fairly often mainly due to the fact  I was doing his legal briefs on parole issues which have continued until recently.

I met some interesting people while standing in line, some were happy to be having this visit, some were sad it had to be in prison, and children looking around wondering what it was all about. My number came up, the correctional officers did their routine of checking my pocket contents, running the scanner wand over my body (could have been where I walked through the scanning machine, have forgotten), frisking if needed. Don’t remember taking my shoes off but that is done in some prisons. An officer directed me to the visiting area.

I took a seat at a table, looked around, saw people hugging (permitted one hug when you meet and one hug when you leave), saw where the canteen was, checked out  the restroom area and settled in until John arrived. It generally takes a little while for the inmates to come as they  need to be called to the visiting area from their dorms, they need to walk to the visiting building, get in line, patted down, sometimes stripped searched (mostly though when leaving due to the potential of a visitor bringing in some contraband) and wait to be allowed to go into the visiting room.

In walks John and he gives me a big hug. We are smiling and happy to see each other again. First on the agenda is to get some food, that takes awhile too, as there is always a line up to the canteen. With our coffees etc. at hand, the talking begins – catching up on family, any Florida  news, his case, and whatever comes to mind. We told funny stories, we talked with people around us.  John showed me some high profile people serving time with him. We talked non stop. So was everyone else and the acoustics are not good in prison visiting rooms – never! But the gaiety is very evident because visiting is not taken for granted. Visitations are a privilege, not a “right.” The correctional officers even smile at times and are in no way being “correctional”at this time, unless something provokes it like shouting, arguing, couples too close to each other. Some become fairly friendly with the visitors who come in on a regular basis and they say hello and how are you but in no way get into personal conversations with the inmates and families. They still have a job to do.

Our visit seemed to go so quickly but we had another day that made the departure this day easier, especially on John. He gets a visit maybe once a year or every two years now that he is back in California. The second day went just as well and fast. It is time to say good bye, I get a really big farewell hug. He tells me to have a safe trip back to Florida, to say hello to his family and to Felix, and waves goodbye. I walk out outside grateful for freedom, and so happy to have been a part of making someone’s day a little brighter.

These are the good times in prison, prisoners live for the weekends for a visit, it is what keeps them looking forward when all else around them looks hopeless. They go back to their cells with a smile on their face, a ray of sunshine in their heart – yes, it was a good day!

The One Lovely Blog Award

August 1, 2012

I received a message recently, nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award by Marsha Graham of iPhonePhotoMaven at http://iphonephotomaven.wordpress.com/awards/#comment-410. (She publishes several other blogs – her fingers are bleeding on the keyboard.)

Thank you, Marsha, for your nomination. I’m glad you enjoy DeafInPrison.com.  We work hard at presenting news and information regarding the issue of Deaf incarceration, in an interesting and enjoyable format. Accepting this award is an honor, and a great opportunity to mention some of the blogs that have had an influence on us.

There are five guidelines for accepting this award:

Link back to the blogger who nominated you.

  1. Paste the award image on your blog, anywhere.
  2. Tell seven facts about yourself.
  3. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award.
  4. Contact the bloggers that you have chosen to let them know that they have been nominated.

Seven facts about me: (Since I’m the editor/administrator for this blog, but neither the site owner – publisher, nor the sole content creator, I feel it necessary to share some of the wealth.)

1. When I’m not blogging, I’m a pro-am boxer. That is to say that although I don’t make money fighting for purses, I train like a pro – 12 round fights at 3 minutes a round. I fight once a week, and spend about 2 hours a day training.

2. DeafInPrison.com is the brainchild of Joanne Greenberg from an impetus by McCay Vernon. Dr. Vernon was looking to co-author a book on the subject, but Ms. Greenberg convinced him of the advantages of an online approach.

3.  My Gravatar is Jack.  Jack is a Chow-Lab mix. He was born to a dog-fighting ring in Georgia, and due to his lack of size was unceremoniously left by the side of the road with his mother and siblings. His mother was hit and killed by a passing car, and the rescue organization – Old Fella Burke County Animal Rescue – found him, starving and afraid – suckling at her corpse. They sent him up to Northeast Animal Shelter – a no kill shelter – in Salem, MA.

4. If you’ve been watching our video series, Felix Garcia in His Own Words, you’ve undoubtedly been impressed by the job done by our wonderful interpreter. Here’s something I didn’t know about ASL interpreting. In this world of self-promotion and overnight Internet fame – the ASL interpreter views her work in somewhat the same light, as does a doctor or a priest. That is to say that they want to keep their names out of the public view, and maintain a confidentiality regarding their clients.

5. I have lived many past lives. I’ve been an audio-video engineer, a computer engineer, a rock and roll soundman, a cabbie, a truck driver and numerous things that are a lot less pride-worthy. Most recently, however, I was a Diabetic. I was obese – at a body fat percentage of over 30%, and I almost died of Diabetic shock before my diagnosis. I have beaten the disease, using diet and exercise. My blood work has been that of a non-Diabetic for the last 3 years, and I’ve been off any medication. Doctors generally view this as impossible.

6. Not all Sign is ASL. Apparently, in Guatemala the Deaf speak Lensegua. Some quick research reveals that just about every country has a unique version of Sign language. There is also a Lingua Franca version called International Sign, and another American form called Signed Exact English. ASL however, is the big dog in the tall grass. It’s the 4th most commonly spoken language in the World.

7. DeafInPrison.com is constantly seeking content. We need to hear from anyone who’s Deaf and has been – or is currently – incarcerated or has interacted with Law Enforcement. Conversely, we need to hear from those on the other side of the glass, so to speak. If you are a Corrections Officer or Police Officer who has interacted with the Deaf, please contact us. This is extremely important. We want nothing more than to tell this story fairly, and with both sides represented.

————————————-

The next part of the award is nominating other bloggers:

1. Improving Police

http://improvingpolice.wordpress.com/  A blog site by a former Police commissioner, who works to improve the way policing is done.

2. Nanoy Manga

http://nonoymanga.wordpress.com/ Teaches the art of Manga, and religiously follows DeafInPrison.com. I can always count on a “Like” from him, and that earns my gratitude.

3. Lipreading Mom

http://lipreadingmom.com/ A blogger – and actual real life writer – discusses what raising hearing children is like for a HoH individual.

4. MadMike’s America

http://madmikesamerica.com/ My mentor and inspiration. They have an army of contributors, post like a Colorado wild fire, and have a vast readership. If DeafInPrison.com ever becomes even 1/10th as huge – I can die and go to Heaven.

5. Law Office of Marsha Graham

http://attorneygraham.com/ One of Ms. Graham’s many blogs. All this and a working attorney. Where does she find the time?

6. Another Boomer Blog

http://anotherboomerblog.wordpress.com/ - This too, is a Marsha Graham blog. Her support for the DeafInPrison.com project has been invaluable, and if it were up to me, she’d win her own special award.

7. Ricky’s Medical Blog

http://rickysmedicalblog.wordpress.com/As mentioned above, I like to climb into a ring with a 200 pound bone-breaker and throw it around. So, dare I say it – I’m pretty buff. Well, this guy makes me look like the proverbial 90 pound weakling. He’s also a doctor, a personal trainer and a behavioral scientist. His articles are factual and informative – and they deal in science – not rumor, mythology or urban legend.

8. Prisonmovement’s Weblog

http://prisonmovement.wordpress.com/ One of the sites that I consider a sister site to DeafInPrison.com. We commonly reblog each other, and their cause is much in sync with our own. A great site, and one that I’m proud to associate myself with.

9. Terpshands

http://terpshands.wordpress.com/ One area, which DeafInPrison.com concerns itself with, is ASL interpretation. The need for qualified interpreters is great. Terpshands is such an interpreter.

10. CrimeDime

http://crimedime.com/ Mentioning CrimeDime here is as much an honor as it is a pleasure. They too, are what I consider a sister site to our own, but they’ve been of immeasurable help to me in starting DeafInPrison.com. They interviewed me, and published it as a four part series. My head still won’t fit through my front door. I’ve said this before, but CrimeDime – you guys are the bomb!

11. iPhonePhotoBlogging

http://iphonephotomaven.wordpress.com/ So, along with all her other talents, Marsha Graham is also a photographer. And just to make matters more challenging, she creates all this beautiful work with an iPhone.

12. Ellexa Press LLC

http://www.ellexapress.com/ Not exactly a blog site, per se, but the home of one of DeafInPrison.com’s favorite interpreters.

13. H.E.A.R.D.

http://www.behearddc.org/ Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf. Again, not necessarily a blog site, but they’ve been relentless in both their fight to aid Deaf prisoners, and in their support of DeafInPrison.com.

14. Blog Catalog

http://www.blogcatalog.com/blogs/deafinprison-1 This is a blog site aggregator. Once listed on here, they help promote your blog. It’s kind of like the Zagat guide for bloggers. Civilians can go here to read reviews and ratings of your blog.

15. Solitary Watch

http://solitarywatch.com/ The Web site of Jim Ridgeway. He’s the journalist who interviewed Felix Garcia in prison, from which we’ve made our hugely successful video series. Mr. Ridgeway has worked for prison reform and the abolishment of solitary confinement – for many years.

Felix in His Own Words – Part I

This video, part I in a series, represents the culmination of the combined efforts of James Ridgeway – who owns the copyright, Pat Bliss – who assisted in the filming, our wonderful interpreter – who requested anonymity, but did an awesome job – and myself – who turned the knobs and punched the buttons.

My original intention was to provide the interpretation in the form of subtitles, but I quickly became aware that our interpreter’s voice-over was so expressive and packed with emotion, that subtitles simply wouldn’t do justice to the feeling of the piece.

This stands alone as one of the single most powerful interviews I have ever seen.

Pat Bliss has informed me that Felix has recently been transferred to a camp with other Deaf, and has not again, experienced the trauma expressed in this video.

Please note: On the right hand side of the control bar, you will find a button that allows for full screen viewing. If you view this video in the embedded mode – not full screen – you will need to move your mouse off the page. That will cause the control bar to disappear, allowing you to read the captions.

Our Second Poll – Please Vote

“Jack” – the Internet Rock Star. Image courtesy of BitcoDavid.

This is our second WP Poll on PollDaddy. Please vote, we need your feedback. Also, I have added a rating applet to all posts. You can now rate posts as well as “Like” and comment on them.

No, It’s Not Ideal

A prison guard: 'Corrupt' prison guards fuel drug culture

Image courtesy of http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/2262984/Corrupt-prison-guards-fuel-drug-culture-in-prison.html

Placing deaf inmates together has a positive effect, both for the individual in prison and for the officials and guards who are responsible for his care and treatment. There will be less, not more, of a management problem when deaf prisoners are grouped together, irrespective of the crimes for which they are being imprisoned. Tomoka has a facility in which deaf people have been grouped. There is another in Huntsville, Texas including a G.E.D. program for deaf inmates.

Image courtesy of http://www.queerty.com/how-dare-you-fire-this-dallas-prison-guard-for-telling-co-workers-about-how-gays-should-be-exterminated-20100316/

I would like to hear from deaf inmates there, how things are within the program. I would also like to hear from guards, administrators and other personnel, what their experiences are with deaf inmates. What do you experience in managing diverse populations in the system?

Image courtesy of http://vipdictionary.com/classroom

Inmate Letter

[The following was posted by Pat Bliss, and transcribed in Word format by me. It is a very tough read, as I tried to avoid editing as much as possible. I wanted it to be in the original voice, but did need to make some changes in grammar or spelling, only to make it readable. I strongly encourage you, however, to give it a read. It is a profoundly disturbing and heart rending work.

BitcoDavid]

The following was written to me by an inmate. It is very difficult to read, due to the inmate’s educational status. BitcoDavid did the transcription – as best he could -  and tried to correct for spelling and grammar where it would make the letter easier for our readers to understand, while at the same time trying not to alter the inmates original work.

Image courtesy http://hiphoprepublican.com/opinion/2010/07/12/vanessa-jean-louis- a-conservative-perspective-on-former-inmate-re-entry/

4-11-2012                                                                              xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Wednesday                                                                            xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx-Low

Do not print my name. I                                                  xxxxx P.O. Box xxxxxxxxx

Fear “ retaliation of officers                                           xxxxx CA xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I’m Deaf and fear for my life, in cells with other Inmates, in dorms and around officers. I’ve been beaten and raped many time’s over 25 years.

Mrs. Pat Bliss,

I’m xxxx xxxx I’m now incarcerated since 1988. I was born with very bad hearing, in 1958, but at that time of my life, I was born in an orphanage by a teen-orphan mother. I’m Black, and who my parents was, I’ve never known, and in 1958, no one cared about a Black-Deaf-orphan.

I learned how to adjust, and read lips. I only made it to the 9th grade in school, since I couldn’t hear well. I avoided people most of my life

I learned how to do plumbing and janitorial work to survive. This is my first time in prison. Over time now in prison, I’ve lost my hearing completely. I was wearing hearing aids – then I was given an amplifier, but now 2012 neither hearing aids or amplifiers do not help.

When I was in court, I told my attorney – I couldn’t hear & I didn’t understand. He never spoke up for me, so I wrote a note to the judge.

I wrote a note to the judge stating I was hard of hearing and what I had did concerning the case + how long I had known the defendant + that I needed help communicating. But the judge had my note ordered sealed and she never read it to the court. She read the note, but not to the court.

I was on drugs and the women I dealt with was on drugs. The judge and DA use my statement as a confession and sent me to prison. I was with prostitutes and street people. Some I was having sex with for years. Most of the women was Deaf or disabled In some form or another. I went to court and told the truth in a note and the court used it against me. So, I got charged with rape. Since being in prison, I’ve been on psych-medication off and on. I’ve been beat and raped many times. Officers always put me in situation where I will be beat and raped and my stuff taken.

I was at xxxxxxx – xxxxx – xxxx and was beat daily by officers and when I complain and wrote 602-appeals they put me in ad-seg – then transfer me to xxxx – state prison – where things got worse. I wrote the federal court in xxxx County. I got beat and transferred and put back on psych-medication in 2005, 2006. I 602 appeal being raped in cells.

In 2005 and 2006, the officers put me on a special – van – transferring me to xxxx xxxx. There my counselor – a lady – received notes from other prison staff and she changed my case factors – from rape – to – “child abuse,” then refused to even see me – or help me – so, I wrote the courts to get legal papers stating this was not true. I was beat and put in a cell with another inmate who rape me and officers refuse to help me – or move me to another cell.

I wrote a 602 appeal stating I’m deaf and being raped and abused and my things stolen – xxxx xxxx and now here at xxxx xxxx they refuse to help me or protect me. I’ve ask doctors and custody and counselors and psych doctors to give me a single cell for safety concerns and mental help. They all say no. I stated A.D.A. regulation 1630-2-R the risk of direct threat – mental harm and physically harm and the imminence of harm.

They all refuse to help.

I’m completely ignored. I’m Black and in prison for a rape I did not do and I’m Deaf. Now. I do not trust anyone and I do not talk to anyone and I never leave my cell. I’m scared to sleep in the cell with inmates – I’m scared around people. If I complain – or write a 602 appeal I will be beat and transferred again.

I’ve seen my c-file and medical files, and ther is statements in both concerning me and things I’ve suppose to have said – to people – staff and doctors and officers that I’ve never seen and never talk to.

I was put in A.S.L. Sign language school, but I was too scared and nervous around the crowd of inmates at class. I couldn’t set still.

So, I stop going. I do know and understand Sign language and I do use it and read lips and notes to communicate. If I’m forced to talk, I’ve ask for an interpreter many times at the doctor’s offices and in groups. But, no one ever come to help. I do not know what else was wrote in my charts lately, but no staff – doctor – officer – nurse – interpreter will help and the E.E.N.T. ear specialist stated and noted and I have legal documents saying I’m legally Deaf. I learn when very young how to read lips and watch people’s movements – first before learning Sign language. So, officers think I can hear them and officers send inmates to talk with me. Then the inmate will state the same to help officers. In prison, staff and doctors and officers only write what will benefit them and they only help inmates that will help them and say what they want. I learn this in my 25 years of incarceration. Facts.

I’m now in a program called E.O.P. Psych, which custody and doctors can use to disclaim anything I file against them.

Yes, I’m very depressed and I’m very paranoid around people and I don not trust anyone. The doctor’s work with custody and officers and keep me on medication – drugged up.

I’m in cells with inmates with serious mental problems. They abuse me and fight me and take my stuff. I told the doctors this, but even their boss said he cannot help me. I told the unit officers and they said for me to fight back or if someone gets hurt then they will separate us and put me in another cell. I cannot hear and I cannot speak well and I cannot yell for help.

I need a single cell, but they say no. Unless I kill my cellie – or he kills me. They then will take me to court and give me  more time – or bury me somewhere.

I was not exam until 1995 by prison doctors, but nothing was wrote – or noted. “1845 –legally” until 2006 at xxxx xxxx.

From all the transfers and ad-seg trips, I do not have anymore legal papers – lost.

I do not have any disciplinary “problems” but I’ve been to the hole and transferred many times. On legal papers in prison everything looks great, but in reality they do nothing to help of protect. I’m Black and in prison and Deaf and with no family ever.

I was 29 or 30 when I came to prison. Now I’m 55 years old – on August, 2012 – I’ll be 56 years old.

After dealing with the foster home – state people and society and going deaf and the state courts and state attorney and prison staff and doctors and officers and inmates, now I have serious emotional and mental problems. I don’t sleep and I don’t eat and I do not talk to anyone ever. I pray, but God gave up on me when I was born.

I’ve been lied to and [illeg.] on by doctors – pastors – officers – counselors – inmates. The people and women I thought was my friends came to court and testified against me to save themselves.

I pray only for death now.

You are my last hope of asking for help. If you cannot help me get a single cell and protection until I parole – 2014 – if they let me parole – I will give up completely.

Knowing the prison system you might not ever get this letter or you might not want to help a Black Deaf inmate either.

For 25 years I’ve not had any outside contact and no help – no visits – no mail – no phone calls – not even TTY phone. I’m at the end of my rope.

I’ll end here – hopefully waiting.

xxxx xxxx xxxx

Help if willing – or – able.

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