Current Media Coverage on Felix

By Pat Bliss

Since we have enlisted the aid of Sachs Media Group in the Felix Garcia case, we have seen a large increase in media coverage. Below is a partial list of some of the newspapers and media outlets who have covered the case. We are thrilled at the attention Felix is finally getting in the press. Thank you Sachs Media, but we also don’t want to forget the commitment and help Felix has gotten from DeafInPrison.com, Mother Jones, and the many people who gave us support. This is a team effort, and I’m reminded of that expression, it takes a village. Thank you all for your hard work on Felix’s behalf.

Sachs Media Group

Reggie Garcia speaks to the crowd at #JusticeForFelix Rally. Image: Sachs Media Group

WJXT Jacksonville

Hearing-impaired seek justice for Florida man

March 25, 2014

By Matt Galka, Reporter

A deaf Florida man has spent more than 30 years of his life behind bars for a crime his brother has since confessed to. Hundreds of Floridians who are hearing-impaired are making noise to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Felix Garcia was convicted of murdering a man in Tampa in 1983. Garcia is deaf and the court had no interpreter to help him understand his trial. He has spent every day since behind bars — even after his brother admitted to the murder.

Click here to read the rest of the article:

http://www.news4jax.com/news/hearingimpaired-seek-justice-for-florida-man/25160288

Also featured on WFLA—Matt Galka, Reporter

Click here to watch his video segment:

http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=01d5eb53-2a06-4c1f-b462-ec1387c4dac2

Capital News Service

Hearing Impaired Seek Justice

March 25, 2014

By Matt Galka, Reporter

Felix Garcia was convicted of murdering a man in Tampa in 1983.  Felix is deaf and the court had no interpreter to help him understand his trial. He has spent every day since behind bars – even after his brother has admitted to the murder.

“He went into court, he didn’t know what was going on, he signed things he didn’t know he was signing and the result was he was incarcerated and he’s still in jail,” said Lissette Molina Wood through an interpreter. Wood is the Florida Association of the Deaf President.

http://www.flanews.com/?p=21116

WJXT-JAX – Jacksonville, FL

March 25, 2014

Matt Galka, Reporter

Click here to watch this video segment:

http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=a07e28cb-ddb2-4463-a3fa-2976a506c2ff

WCJB (ABC) – Gainesville, FL

WCJB TV News 20

March 25, 2014

Matt Galka, Reporter

Click here to watch this video segment:

http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=2025886c-0d14-4a62-89f3-90fc4e71fdb2

WCJB (ABC) – Gainesville, FL

WCJB TV News 20

March 25, 2014

Matt Galka, Reporter

Click here to watch this video segment:

http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=00840338-5760-4c6a-9609-1f60567e7f5b

The Florida Channel

Capital Update

March 25, 2014

*Our story is featured at the end of the Capital Update

Click here to watch this video segment:

http://thefloridachannel.org/watch/channel/tvweb1/

The Tampa Tribune

Deaf Tampa convict seeks clemency in murder

March 25, 2014

By James Rosica

 

Felix Garcia is in prison for murder, his defenders say, in part because he did not want his hearing impairment to be mistaken for stupidity. Garcia, 52, is serving a life sentence for a August 1981 killing in a north Tampa motel room, the result of a drug robbery gone bad.

Now, he’s asking Gov. Rick Scott to set him free.

Click here to read the rest of the article:

http://tbo.com/news/politics/deaf-tampa-convict-seeks-clemency-in-murder-20140325/

WUFT (NBC) – Gainesville, FL

March 25,2014

By Tavis Smiley

Click here to watch video segment:

http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=7083ea02-6b33-49aa-8f54-06d6ada4b1d4

Ad Hoc News

Deaf Tampa convict seeks clemency in murder

March 25, 2014

By James Rosica

Felix Garcia is in prison for murder, his defenders say, in part because he did not want his hearing impairment to be mistaken for stupidity.

Garcia, 52, is serving a life sentence for a August 1981 killing in a north Tampa motel room, the result of a drug robbery gone bad.Now, he’s asking Gov. Rick Scott to set him free.His brother, also charged in the robbery, later framed Garcia by getting him to pawn a ring stolen from the dead man, Joseph Tramontana Jr.

Click here to see the rest of the article:

http://article.wn.com/view/2014/03/25/Deaf_Tampa_convict_seeks_clemency_in_murder/

WFLA-TB (NBC) – Tampa Bay, FL

News Ch8 Today

March 26, 2014

Clip shown at 4:30/ 5:30 a.m.

Click here to watch this video segment:

http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=50f4c42b-7e98-4a8e-98d3-1b3bdfd4ede3

If you haven’t yet signed the Sachs Media petition, we need your signature. Conversely, DeafInPrison.com’s petition which is the longest lived petition in the case is still open, but if you sign it, we’re asking that you please take the time to sign the Sachs Media petition as well. Thank you for understanding why this is so important.

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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Famous Web Site Posts Exaggerated April Fools Story

By BitcoDavid

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

But you already knew that, huh? What gave it away, the NY Yankees bit?

Anyway, I just want to say that I’m shocked! Shocked I tell you! That DeafInPrison.com – the blog of record - would stoop to such antics!

All I can say in my defense is, “I have no recollection of that event, Mr. Senator.” ” It depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is.” And of course, “the check is in the mail.”

Happy April Fools, everybody.

 

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.

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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Your Thoughts on the Felix Garcia Case

By BitcoDavid

Felix Garcia celebrating his GED in 1984 Courtesy Pat Bliss. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/deaf-prisoners-felix-garcia

Felix Garcia celebrating his GED in 1984 Courtesy Pat Bliss.
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/deaf-prisoners-felix-garcia

Although we have entered into an arrangement with Sachs Media to bring their considerable skills to bear on Felix Garcia’s pending clemency, we are still getting signatures on our petition as well. I’m fine with that, but I hope people are also signing their petition – which goes directly into the inboxes of the officials who have influence on the case.

In the meantime, as I have perused the, now, 765 signatures, several of your comments have struck me. I have collected a few here, for you all to see. These comments are your words, not mine. In other words, this is how the Public feels about Felix.

My boyfriend has done time with him and was a translator for him while at polk ci. He had discussed this with him in detail and was very surprise to heat that it finally made he courts. After listen to him and then reading up on Felix I felt that I should support him. Must be bad to be in there for being guilty but being innocent that must must be really bad.

***

I am a certified sign language interpreter with 25 years of experience. I also have Deaf parents and a Deaf sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. I take this case very personally because it could have been one of my family members being unjustly jailed. This is a complete failure of our justice system that should have been so blatantly obvious at the time, but somehow it wasn’t. Mr. Garcia should be freed immediately based upon this new evidence and more importantly, due to the lack of him being afforded the opportunity and ability to defend himself against these false charges. I stand with all those who support that persons who are Deaf or hard of hearing should never be tried without the clear ability to communicate and defend themselves against any and all claims made against them. To do otherwise is complete madness and unconstitutional.

***

This would be heartbreaking if it was merely a case of one man being framed for murder by his own brother and wasting more than thirty years in a prison cell. It is infuriating once you understand that Frank Garcia openly confessed to framing his brother Felix in writing and in court, and yet Felix is STILL in prison seven years later. But what makes it truly, egregiously, outrageously horrific, is that Felix is functionally Deaf, and like other such men and women in prison, his Deafness has been denied – when not outright exploited – by our glorious justice system from the day he was arrested. He has been denied interpreters and even batteries for his hearing aids, laughed at when attempting to communicate, frightened into a desperate suicide attempt by guards, and raped. This. Is. Not. Acceptable.
***
Keep up the outstanding work, Pat Bliss and team!
***
As a former law enforcement agent, I feel sad and guilty for the unjustified incarceration of Felix Garcia. Please, do not let this tragedy continue, release this poor soul who was betrayed by his own brother.
***
New evidence requires a review of this case; and not giving a Deaf man access to his own hearing aids is Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

This is just a sample of the many comments I have received on the petition, but they convey the emotions and thinking of the general public as they become increasingly aware of Felix’s plight. Please take a moment to sign the Sachs Media petition here, and Like their FaceBook page, here. Even if you have already signed our petition. I know that’s a lot to ask, and I apologize for it, but this way, you can be assured that your voice will be heard.

At the same time, I’d like to thank everybody who has already signed ours, and to let you know that our petition is still active, and still holds the record for longest lived petition since this case was first made public. We had the record for the most signatures, and although we have gained a significant number since Sachs Media’s petition was launched, I honestly hope we no longer have that honor. When our 765 signatures become the second runner-up, that means that so many more will have already been brought to Florida’s attention.
You can tweet about Felix using the hashtags, #JusticeForFelix or #FreeFelix.

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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Wind in My Sails

By BitcoDavid

Grant Executive Clemency to Felix Garcia

Where Felix Garcia is concerned, the go-to is and has always been Pat Bliss. Ms. Bliss has put forth a herculean 17 year effort to free Felix. As a result, he calls her “Mom.” The most recent turn of events in the case, is the ongoing Clemency hearing in which Pat is being assisted in this struggle by Reggie Garcia – Felix’s pro bono attorney.

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

These two individuals have enlisted the aid of Sachs Media Group, Florida’s #1 Public Relations firm. DeafInPrison.com has opted to be of aid where ever possible to Sachs Media. They have a lot of boots on the ground, where we do not. One area where we can assist them, as they take on this final leg of a struggle we have been solely involved in for almost 2 years now, is the transfer of signatures from our petition to theirs.

I have done this, but unfortunately, Change.org will not accept signatures from a Care2 petition. It’s simply a tech issue, having to do with login requirements. It is due to this situation, that I am asking the following.

If you are one of the 745 individuals who were gracious enough to sign our petition, could you please see your way clear to sign theirs as well? I fully realize that this seems like a bothersome request. You would be well justified in thinking that since you’ve signed one petition, you shouldn’t be asked to re-sign yet another.

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

But here’s the thing. Their petition is directly linked to the e-mails of all the individuals in Florida who we were targeting. The difference being, these people will receive these signatures right away – in their inboxes, not in the U.S. mail. Rather than being an envelope they can simply stick in a desk drawer somewhere, these signatures will be right in their faces – right away. I can’t stress how important that will be.

Some have asked me what happened – did the wind get knocked out of my sails? The answer is a most definite no. The wind is most assuredly still in my sails, but now I’ve got an armada rather than just one little boat. With our help – all of us – Sachs Media can finally free Felix.

Please visit their Petition page, here. Sign the petition – even if you’ve already signed mine. Like their FaceBook page, here. I will be posting on that page regularly. We’re not selling out, we’re trading up. After 32 years, Felix needs to be freed. It’s a moral issue, a legal issue and a justice issue. Every day that Felix spends in prison is another day we all suffer, another day the whole world suffers.

Here’s the unformatted link to the Sachs Media petition:
https://www.change.org/petitions/rick-scott-grant-executive-clemency-to-felix-garcia

Here’s the unformatted FaceBook link:https://www.facebook.com/championsforjusticeforfelixgarcia

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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Major Update on Felix’s Case

By BitcoDavid

As most of you know, DeafInPrison.com has been working tirelessly, on the release of Felix Garcia, the innocent Deaf man, imprisoned for 30 years thus far, in Florida. We have written countless pieces on his situation, been in constant contact with Pat Bliss, the paralegal who has been working on this case for over a decade, now, and we created the longest lived and most active petition thus far, seeking his pardon.

Well, Pat Bliss and Reggie Garcia – the pro bono attorney who’s handling the clemency hearing – have enlisted the aid of Sachs Media Group in an effort to inform both the public, and the requisite Florida legislators, about this urgent case.

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

Sachs Media is in the process of launching a FaceBook page, and of starting their own petition on Change.org. DeafInPrison.com will be transferring our 740+ signatures over to Sachs Media’s petition – which is directly linked to the e-mail addresses of the same individuals we were targeting. That way, those individuals will receive signatures immediately, rather than our waiting until we reach the 1000 mark. Sachs Media will also be coordinating this activity with a press release – something we’ve tried on numerous occasions.

I will be posting those links as soon as they become available to me.

This is a major step forward in Felix’s case. Sachs Media has a large war chest of contacts and resources they will be able to bring to bear, and those of us who have worked to see Felix freed, may finally get the resolution we’ve been working so hard – and waiting so long – for.

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

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

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the individuals who have signed our petition, and who have worked through social media as well as contributing or commenting here, on DeafInPrison.com. Your signatures will now be added to a much larger pool, and transferred directly to Pam Bondi, Governor Scott and all the members of the Florida Cabinet who have sway with the Clemency Board. When Felix is released, you will be able to say that you were directly responsible for helping to make that dream a reality.

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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Does Juvenile Justice System need a Change?

By Supporter Contributor Daphne Holmes

The gate to to nowhere - Juvenile Court on New...

The gate to to nowhere – Juvenile Court on Newton Street – gate handles (Photo credit: ell brown)

The juvenile justice system in the United States operates under a different set of standards than the adult criminal justice system. In order to make distinctions between the actions undertaken by minors and the crimes committed by adults, the two methods of dispensing justice are completely separate from one another, under the current system.

Court hearings for juveniles are conducted outside the mainstream adult system, and other rehabilitation services also stem from independent juvenile providers.  In general, the system recognizes the differences between adults and juveniles, assigning less accountability for juveniles committing crimes. In addition to their past actions, minors are viewed through a different lens, in terms of their ability to be rehabilitated in the future.  State juvenile programs widely accept that younger offenders have greater potential to change than their adult counterparts do, so the system accommodates a reform-based viewpoint for minors.

Are we going far enough to separate how we administer justice to juveniles and adults? If not, where are we failing and what can we do to right the juvenile justice ship?

Traditional Juvenile Justice

English: The Juvenile Justice Center in Atasco...

The Juvenile Justice Center in Atascosa County in Jourdanton, TX (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In most states, juvenile justice systems intervene when crimes are committed by persons under age 18, though many state systems accommodate supervising those as old as 21. Early juvenile justice was meted out informally, sometimes simply between judges and offending families. The stakes are higher today, and specific provisions provide for juveniles in the system.

Though the focus remains on rehabilitation and turning young lives around, state systems are governed by specific legislation protecting juveniles’ rights.  In 1967, for example, some of the same provisions protecting adults were extended to minors, including the right to legal representation. Subsequent laws also grant the right to trials and other protections. Like adults, juvenile offenders cannot be tried twice for the same crime, and the preponderance of evidence must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Developments Changed Playing Field

Despite ongoing commitments to reform and education, the juvenile justice system continues to evolve, shifting in response to social changes.  In the late-80′s, for example, youthful offenders grew in numbers, prompting the system to react with harsher approaches toward juvenile justice. Higher percentages of offenders were subsequently tried as adults, and certain classes of crimes carried adult penalties for juvenile offenders.

The shift, which carried through into the 1990′s, focused on a law and order approach with less delineation between adult and juvenile offenders. Generally, minors enjoyed less protection than they had previously, leading to adult convictions and prison sentences for juveniles.

Changing Views on Juvenile Justice

LC-DIG-nclc-04645 Juvenile Court

Juvenile Court (Photo credit: Children’s Bureau Centennial)

The progression of social opinion regarding juvenile justice is turning in a new direction, as more and more studies point to differences in the developmental stages between adolescents and adults. In contrast to the 20th century policies focused on incarcerating juvenile offenders, today’s movement embraces a developmental model of reform, which accounts for the unique ways minors see right and wrong.

Behavioral science and sensitivity to mental defects play prominently in the paradigm embraced by many reform advocates, who want to see juvenile offenders getting the help they need, rather than being locked away.  In cases where juveniles do rub up against the adult justice system, reform advocates seek greater protection for their civil rights.

Rehabilitation is still a central tenet of most views of juvenile justice, so reformers want to place greater responsibility on communities for support shaping juvenile outcomes. Local outreach programs and alternative sentencing, for example, are seen as better solutions than prison terms.

The United States juvenile justice system will continue to evolve as it has in the past, responding to social change and shifts in what we know about juvenile offenders. The key for reformers is to balance public interests with the unique requirements of juvenile enforcement and rehabilitation.

Daphne Holmes contributed this guest post. She is a writer for ArrestRecords.com and you can reach her at daphneholmes9@gmail.com.

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Marlee Matlin @ BHCC

By BitcoDavid

Image Credit BitcoDavid

Image Credit BitcoDavid

I can’t say enough about Marlee Matlin‘s appearance at Bunker Hill C0mmunity College in Charlestown, today. She was funny, enlightening, open, friendly and entertaining. She’s overcome much to enjoy the success she does, and her message transcends the Deaf community and speaks to the underdog in us all.

Ms. Matlin’s parents were supportive and nurturing, and they started her out in Sign, early. Unlike many parents of Deaf children, they learned the language themselves, along side her. So, Marlee was quite fortunate to have missed the gaping communication gap that many Deaf must endure.  Nonetheless, they were reticent about her going into acting as a career, and tried to dissuade her – in none but the nicest of ways.

She goes on to say, that it was Henry Winkler who initially gave her the confidence to try, and Winkler has remained a lifelong friend.

I wanted to shoot some highlights for you, but I was hesitant to video the whole show. She is after all a star, and I didn’t want Disney sending the Copyright Police out after me.

Marlee's English Interpreter. Photo credit BitcoDavid

Marlee’s English Interpreter. Photo credit BitcoDavid

There were several interpreters on hand to interpret signed questions as well as to convert spoken questions into sign, although Ms. Matlin can hear with her aids. Most interesting however, was the interpreter whom she apparently works regularly with, who read the English translation of her sign for the audience. I actually found that I could follow her, without having to listen to him at all. I’ve only been signing for about 9 months, but I could understand pretty much all she said.

After the speech was a Q&A. I raised my hand multiple times but wasn’t picked. I didn’t have a question for her. I merely intended to say – in Sign – “Hi, my name is BitcoDavid and I’ve been signing for about 9 months. I just wanted to sign to a genuine movie star – and have her sign back.” I had actually practiced that bit, the night before. But, alas it was not to be.

The auditorium was packed! I was glad to see such a huge turnout, but of course it made for difficulty getting in and finding a seat. Still, SRO is great for a Deaf performer at a one-horse community college. I couldn’t have spent my time any better.

Photo Credit BitcoDavid

Photo Credit BitcoDavid

There was also a mess of food I couldn’t eat -  Carbs, that old chestnut – and a book signing. I thought about hitting her with my ASL dazzle then, but the line was prohibitively long, and I only had a 2 hour parking window. In Boston, people have been murdered over parking spaces – so I decided not to push my luck.

Guess I’ll just have to wait and sign to the next Deaf movie star to hit town.

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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Treating Drug Abuse in the Deaf Community

By Supporter Contributor Emily Syane

This is a chart showing trends in arrests for ...

This is a chart showing trends in arrests for drug abuse violations divided by age groups from 1970-2003. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While the media and social networks teem with inspirational stories about deaf individuals and the deaf community, few people outside the community know about its dark side. One such topic few people discuss it drug abuse. Deaf and hard of hearing people are at higher risk for drug and alcohol abuse, especially the youth. Isolation, unemployment, and communication problems – these are just some of the reasons deaf people get into drugs. Some may try drugs “to fit in” and soon find themselves addicted. Many family members ignore problems. They may think they can simply wipe away drug problems, using a magic toxin wash to wipe the slate clean. Rehab is the only answer, but few facilities can cope with deaf patients.

What are they or family members to do? Regular rehab programs and treatments may not work. Although many of these programs have been around for decades and have been proven effective, few are geared toward deaf drug addicts and some are even counterintuitive. Most treatments require group therapy sessions, which not all deaf people can join. Some facilitates May not have an ASL translator around all the time and sometimes, there are some issues people with regular hearing will not understand. They may miss out on many of the interactions in facilities and might not be able to express themselves fully.

Image courtesy: Dailymail.co.uk

Image courtesy: Dailymail.co.uk

What would be an ideal scenario? The Minnesota Chemical Dependency Program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individuals (MCDPDHHI) is a good example. This facility has a special program that meets the needs of HHI and deaf people and helps them get the treatment they need. The facility has three phases in treatment:

Phase 1: Assessment

Like any type of treatment facility, the patient must first go through an evaluation. Their medical histories and backgrounds are reviewed, but also the patients’ drug abuse history, social history, and of course, a communication assessment.

Treatment Art Card.

Treatment Art Card. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Phase 2: Primary Treatment

The second phase consists of many standard items found in regular rehab facilities. The center uses the 12 Steps and teaches this to their patients, with modifications to fit the needs of their patients. The family is also involved in the treatment and is invited to join some sessions. Many drug issues are related to family issues so this phase is important. Behavioral contracts are also a part of this process. Patients are given guidelines on how they should behave and how they can help make the treatment progress better.

Phase 3: After Care and Extended Care

As with any treatment program, the real work comes when the patient has to go back out into the real world. The patient now has to go back out and try to be on their own and stop themselves from going off the wagon. The center will arrange for patients to join 12 Step meetings, go to relapse prevention classes, and have a therapist fluent in ASL to help them. For those who need assistance, the center may also help them find a halfway house or perhaps vocational assistance so they can slowly integrate back into society.

Places like the Minnesota Chemical Dependency Program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individuals are few and far between. Not many people understand and give priority to deaf and hard of hearing individuals, which is why more education, and less prosecution, is needed when dealing with people who abuse drugs.

Emily Syane is a health blogger and customer service representative for YourCleanDrugScreen; she loves to write a blog about life, career, and anything about new research. She is doing a job as secretarial assistance at body Detoxification Company www.synergydetox.com
Get in touch with Twitter & YouTube

 

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Event: Marlee Matlin Speaks at BHCC

By BitcoDavid

Thursday, February 27, 2014
A300 Auditorium
Program begins at 1:00 p.m.
Book signing to follow

Free and Open to the Public – Online registration is required.

Winner of an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Actress, and author of I’ll Scream Later and Deaf Child Crossing, Marlee Matlin will speak about the journey of her life: from the frightening loss of her hearing at 18 months to the heights and depths of Hollywood, her battles with addiction, and the unexpected challenges of becoming an emissary for the deaf community. Matlin is known for her starring role in the film Children of a Lesser God and numerous TV appearances, including recurring roles on The West Wing, The L Word, Reasonable Doubts and Switched at Birth.

DeafInPrison.com would like to thank Suzann L. Bedrosian of Deaf Community News for alerting us to this event. Here’s the Link to register. http://www.bhcc.mass.edu/cc/

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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Obesity’s Link to Hearing Loss

By Supporter Contributor Andrew Lisa

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 35.7 percent – more than one third – of American adults are obese. Defined for adults as having a body mass index – or BMI – of 30 or higher, obesity has long been known as the foundation for a range of serious health problems. Heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and several cancers can result from the accumulation of excessive body fat.

Now, hearing loss is being attributed to the condition through research conducted by The Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, which tracked a direct correlation between obesity and degraded hearing in women.

A new study reveals that obesity could lead to yet another health risk - hearing loss. Image credit: Andrew Lisa

A new study reveals that obesity could lead to yet another health risk – hearing loss. Image credit: Andrew Lisa

The Study

The 20-year project tracked more than 68,000 women from 1989 to 2009. Answering detailed questions about their daily habits and general health once every two years, the women’s lives provided a comprehensive glance into long-term progression. In 2009, they were asked if they experienced hearing loss, and if so, when the hearing loss occurred.

The Findings

One out of every six women in the study reported issues with hearing loss at some point during the study. The research displayed a direct correlation between BMI, waist size, and hearing loss. As either variable increased, so did instances of hearing difficulty.

Body Mass Index

BMI, which is a measurement system based on height vs. weight, was a marker for increased instances of hearing loss. Obese women – those with a BMI between 30 and 39 – were between 17 percent and 22 percent more likely to report hearing loss than women who had a BMI of less than 25. For the women who were classified as extremely obese – calculated as having a BMI of 40 or more - the chance of suffering hearing loss went up to a full 25 percent.

English: Graphical representation of frequency...

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

Waist Size

The second overwhelming factor that linked obesity to hearing loss was waist size. Women whose waists measured more than 34 inches were about 27 percent more likely to have suffered hearing loss than women whose waists measured under 28 inches. Even after researchers calculated factors in the effects of having a higher BMI, waist size remained a risk factor for hearing loss. The conclusion was that belly fat specifically might have the greatest impact on hearing.
The Antidote: Exercise

The study, published in the American Journal of Medicine, backs up a fact that is evident through both research and basic common sense: Exercise helps. If you think it’s logical that since exercise is known to fight obesity, it must help with hearing loss, you’re right.

If you’re turned off by the idea of joining a gym or going to an exercise class, keep in mind that there are plenty of options for at-home exercise. Equipment such as elliptical machines, rowing machines, or folding cycles aren’t terribly torturous on your wallet, and they give you a great cardio option right at home.

Image Credit: Ablestock

Image Credit: Ablestock

This study’s careful researchers controlled factors known to affect hearing, such as cigarette smoking, medication use, and diet. Even still, an immediate and obvious pattern emerged showing a direct link between obesity and hearing loss. If you didn’t have enough reasons to lose the weight before, this study provides one more.

Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about health, medical science, and is a content marketing expert.

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Progress is Being Made on Mandates

By BitcoDavid

English: Federal Bureau of Prisons (seal) Espa...

Federal Bureau of Prisons seal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, the Senate passed the sorely needed Smarter Sentencing Act. Supporters of the law came from both sides of the aisle, but the act is opposed by the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, who believe that Federal mandatory sentencing is a necessary tool for minimizing crime and aiding prosecutors.

The truth is, this legislation would reduce prison population and ease recidivism, balance out racial disparity, heal broken families and save tax dollars. More Black males under the age of 40 are currently jailed or imprisoned, than were at the peak of South African Apartheid. The Federal Bureau of Prisons is operating at 140% of its maximum capacity. That means that there are 14 inmates for every 10 beds.

English: An aerial view of the Federal Correct...

An aerial view of the Federal Correctional Institute in Sheridan, Oregon. It is run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons by the US government (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While it has been proven that Blacks are no more likely to sell drugs, than Whites,  they are far more likely to be prosecuted for drug law offenses. Whites also tend to receive no sentences or light sentences, whereas Blacks are more likely to feel the brunt of mandatory sentencing laws.

Yesterday’s Senate vote shows that both Republicans and Democrats believe that America’s incarceration fever is out of control and needs reform. The problem has become so disastrous, that even these two opposing philosophies are willing to work for change.

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For years, judges have opposed these draconian laws. I have even heard of cases where judges handed down rulings, while in tears – their own sense of right and wrong being in direct opposition to laws that tied their hands.

Of course, like any legislation, yesterday’s vote was only the first hurdle. The bill will now go to the House, where if it is passed will go to Obama‘s desk. From there, it will have to face any Supreme Court challenge. So, don’t expect to be picking up your loved one, at that main gate, tomorrow – but given the givens, DeafInPrison.com lauds this flickering flame of progress and says thank you to the U.S. Senate.

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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