Song Tells Felix’s Suffering

By Pat Bliss

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


 

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

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Update on Felix – Part 2

By Pat Bliss

After visiting with Felix on Sunday, January 5th I drove to Tallahassee. I took a route I had not traveled before, which took me through mid-Florida flat land compiled mainly of horse farms and training establishments for horse racing. I actually enjoyed it, and allowed enough time to get to Tallahassee before dark. Our clemency attorney – Reginald Garcia – called me and told me there was to be an early meeting before going to the Capitol. It was totally unexpected and I would end up, blown away.

Image from Raiford Prison, cir. 1930  Northlight Theater Blog

Image from Raiford Prison, cir. 1930
Northlight Theater Blog

The meeting was with the Innocence Project of Florida. After much discussion, they agreed to look into our case. As if that wasn’t enough, there was more. Attorney Michael Ufferman – an expert in criminal appellate law – was at the same meeting. Attorney Ufferman received case law on a US Supreme Court opinion where the Federal Courts will drop any time bars on actual innocence cases. This has been are stickler in the past for us, getting heard in Federal Court on Felix’s 6th Amendment violation – denied a fair trial due to deafness where he could not assist nor understand what was taking place and was not  provided an interpreter.

Attorney Ufferman stated he was going to file a Federal Writ Of Habeas Corpus. In a third happy surprise, Attorney Garcia – experienced in parole matters – said he will attend Felix’s parole hearing coming up in October with me.

In my heart I was bursting with thankfulness as we left the Innocence Project office to go to the Capitol for a meeting with an attorney for Governor Scott on the clemency action in progress.  We were encouraged to see other clemency aides to get a second vote to initiate a Request for Review which requires the Governor plus one. Another positive step in a long process.

I left Florida very content that my purpose in making this trip had been fulfilled.

Update on Felix:
Felix is on a new venture. He graduated from the Character/Faith program on 1/13/14. He is enrolled in a training class to become a computer instructor and is already teaching Word, Excel and drawings on the computer to fellow inmates. Besides this new work he is in and knowing what these professional attorneys are doing on his case, Felix definitely went from hopelessness to hope in a very short time. Happy New Year to all!

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.

Suppose it were Mozart

By BitcoDavid

Prison is a horrible place, and an even more horrible concept. But I would propose that perhaps it is we who suffer most when our friends and loved ones find themselves chewed up in the soulless machine that is America’s Criminal Justice System.

Now, as always – I would preface this article with the disclaimer that sure, some people definitely belong behind bars. Yes, Virginia there are criminals, and yes, there is no place that can serve them better than the cold steel of the  Greyrock Hilton.

But where would the world be if Mozart were sent to waste his life behind barbed wire? What a dull, colorless place Earth would be if Picasso were denied paint and canvas, or if Bell were kept from playing with magnets and wires. And to some degree or another, are we not all Mozarts, Picassos and Bells? I put it to you in the purely theoretical. Is it not possible that a cure for Cancer, a discovery of Warp drive, another Jupiter Symphony isn’t rotting in some hell-hole somewhere?

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

Felix with Pat Bliss.
Image credit Pat Bliss

Pat Bliss is an expert on prisons. She does what many of us wish we could. She goes into these places – on a regular basis – and works with the men and women behind bars. Hence, she has learned a great deal about the tangled web of visitation and the virtually inaccessible prisoner trust accounts. Last night on the phone, I broached an idea I had been hatching.

"Jail" in Sign Image: LifePrint.com

“Jail” in Sign
Image: LifePrint.com

You see, as many DeafInPrison.com readers are already aware, I have set out to learn Sign language. So, while watching the absolutely awesome Al Jazeera exposé featuring Felix Garcia, I saw him signing. I thought it might be a great opportunity for ASL students in the Florida area, to visit Felix over a period of a few weeks. Felix could tutor people in a boot camp immersion environment, via daily visits. In return, people could pay Felix for the service, which would provide him a nest egg for that day when he finally gets his clemency.

So, I needed to communicate with Pat Bliss, to work out some of the logistics of this wicked pissah idea of mine. I grabbed the phone, cranked the crank and hollered into the pipe. “Sarie – get me Pat Bliss.”

Well, it turns out my idea is impossible.

You see, individuals would not be able to visit Felix. Felix is allowed only 2 hours of visitation a week, and that on weekends only, and only by authorized visitors. He is allowed only 1 hour a month for visitation from media types for interviews. He has limited access to TTY, and of course no Video Relay access. He cannot operate or maintain an Internet presence, cannot access social media and – other than the very limited computer training program in which he is already involved, has no access to digital technology. In fact, Pam Bondi has a certain well known undergarment all tangled up in a bunch over the fact that I – and others – maintain a Web presence for Felix, as 3rd parties.

Furthermore, Florida takes issue with inmates getting paid for performing services for private individuals – unless of course it’s slave labor for factory facilities like CCA and other private sector profiteers.  It’s OK if United Fruit pays him 50¢ a day, but you and I can’t pay him 50$ an hour to teach us Sign.

***

Here’s the thing that strikes me about Felix. He’s a downright nice guy. I’ve seen him in so many interviews now, discussed him in such depth with Pat, and written so much about him that I can say that without fear of contradiction. Felix is a nice guy. And moreover, an individual who could make a substantial contribution to society. So it is we who miss out. We are the losers here. Just as we would have missed the glory of the Jupiter symphony, the psychological expressionism of Cubism, and the 2nd naturedness of telephone communication – had those luminaries been cast aside – we are missing all the great contributions that could – at least theoretically – be made by the Felixes of this world.

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

I Need Hope…..

By Pat Bliss

Felix's most recent shot December 2013 Tomoka. Image Courtesy Pat Bliss

Felix’s most recent shot, December 2013, Tomoka.
Image Courtesy Pat Bliss

Before my leaving for Florida to be with Felix on Christmas day, I received a phone call saying, “I need help, I can’t get it together.” A letter came a couple days later. “I can’t seem to get a grasp of reality… why can’t I get out of here? Why can’t I get my life back?” Then, a little further he states,

“I had hope [at Polk CI]. Hope of one day getting out. I don’t have that here. All I see is hopelessness, despair, forgotten, deserted, alone. I can’t stand this feeling. I feel like I am at the end of my rope. Life has been really hard on me the last two years and I am giving up slowly…I just want to go home – please.”

In this same letter, he shared when he was a scared kid, when his parents sent him to live with his grandparents and he knew his parents were leaving him. He wrote,

“I am 52 years old but I feel like a scared kid all over again. All I want is a chance… I need help, I need hope, I need a real door, a goal. Something to tell myself ‘I am really going home’, if I can’t do that then it’s over, there is nothing left… I am scared, mom, I really am. I am scared for myself. Times have changed. I don’t belong here.”

With this on my mind I drove to FL and when I saw Felix come into the visiting room at Tomoka CI, he displayed his usual infectious smile and greeted me with a big hug, I said, we are going to have a real mother-son talk and tell me all what is going on in your heart and mind. And that he did! He got it all out – anger, unfairness, hopelessness on his case, frustrations. I, in turn, spoke plainly so I could be sure he understood what was going on. We started around 10 am and talked through our lunch and ice cream. By the time I left at 2:30 pm he felt good, and relieved to get it all off his chest.

However, the hope he was seeking hadn’t come yet. It wasn’t just hope for getting out, it was hope to have purpose. This is a need in everyone’s life.  The Bible states “without hope the people parish.” Why am I here? Doesn’t God care? Felix had said “Oh, I believe God can but He doesn’t see me” which broke my heart. Yes God sees him but He has a greater purpose for Felix that we don’t see.  In the meantime, while I was gone between Christmas and Family Day at Tomoka on January 3, 2014, hope came alive. The person responsible in the Horizon Character-Based Program dorm where Felix lives had Felix in mind to take over instructing the computer classes. Felix was told he was to graduate from the Character-Dorm program early, in order to enter the training class to be an instructor. Felix is that good.

The Faith Day event for all the inmates in the program was a huge success. I got to meet the other 4 deaf in the dorm and their families. Felix’s whole attitude had changed, he feels needed and has a goal each day. We visited Saturday and on Sunday I only stayed an hour as I needed to get on the road to Tallahassee. Our relationship had also changed, after having that talk Christmas day he realized I was not going anywhere. He could talk to me and be honest with his feelings. I could tell by the long hug and being able to say “I really love you, mom.”

I will write in another post about the advancement on his clemency action. These are doors Felix was referring to in his letters and when mentioned at our Christmas visit. Life is full of surprises. They are yet to come.

Pat

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.

Related articles

Felix Featured in Al Jazeera Documentary

By Pat Bliss

#JusticeForFelixThere has been a documentary in the works for a few years on the deaf in our prisons. It starts airing tonight on cables’  Al Jazeera America (AJA)  America Tonight at 9pm. It’ll be in Closed Caption. Felix will be highlighted in tonight’s segment, tomorrow will highlight other deaf. After the segment tonight Journalist James Ridgeway  will be in a Q & A session – he wrote the first article on Felix’s case for Mother Jones Magazine in 2011 online and in print 2012. After Friday’s segments Talila Lewis of HEARD will be doing the Q & A session.
If you don’t know you have AJA on your cable, check this web site, input your zip code and it’ll tell you the cable and channel number  http://america.aljazeera.com/tools/getajam.html


If you cannot get it, it will possibly be online on their website soon after : http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight.html
 
Thank you. Pat Bliss
Pat Bliss is a retired paralegal in criminal law. She continues to do legal work for indigent prisoner cases showing innocence. She is a Certified Community Chaplain, Certified as a volunteer for CISM (Crises Intervention Stress Management) and involved in community events.

A Friend Whom Felix Never Met

By Pat Bliss

This friendship goes back a long time starting with a letter written in Felix’s behalf in 1996, asking help for a deaf innocent man in prison at that time 15 years. Dr. McCay Vernon replied to Felix on November 24, 1996. McCay immediately took some action by sending a copy of the letter to the Editor in Chief of Silent News, Mrs. Betty Broecker, and wrote to Mr. Frank Slater of the Florida Association of the Deaf to see if they would help. Unfortunately, neither one responded to Felix but this began an interest in Felix’s plight.

I have no letters or notes between Felix and McCay but that does not mean there were none as they could have gotten thrown away or lost at the prison. However, there had to be some correspondence because I got a phone message on 8/22/09 followed up with a letter on 8/24/09 from McCay stating he would like to volunteer his services at Felix’s parole hearing. He sent me his resume. That really touched me, as if a man of his stature would be required to show the Parole Board his credentials as an expert on the deaf.  As happens in DOC, no one appeared at the parole hearing due to the Parole Board setting the hearing one month earlier in 2010  and we were not aware of it. Hence, no one was there representing Felix and the result was a denial.

FaceBook
FaceBook

Mac could not get Felix out of his mind. He was really upset to know there was a deaf man, innocent, still in prison. He would send me copies of articles on the deaf in the criminal justice system.  In our emails I talked about writing a book on Felix’s case. Marie Vernon offered suggestions, since she is an experienced novelist.  Then Mac suggested I contact Journalist Jim Ridgeway in Washington DC, I did, and he published Felix’s story in a article for Mother Jones mag. While I was working with Jim on his article, I got a phone call from Author Joanne Greenberg saying she heard from McCay asking if she could  write the book on Felix’s case story. Joanne declined for something better and suggested I tell Felix’s story on her new blog site DeafInPrison.com . The rest is history. Felix and I are very thankful to Mac for his full support and help to get his story out to the public.

In the meantime, I am telling Felix all what is going on, how Mac helped us here and there and that he cared so much about his situation. Felix’s relationship with Mac was mainly through my letters and I would pass back to Mac what is going on in Felix’s life. Relaying back and forth messages regarding Felix continued until the day Mac was not able to do it anymore in July of this year.

Felix called me the weekend of September 1st and I told him the news of Mac’s passing. I cannot say how Felix took it as “feelings” are not translated over a TTY call but he responded the only way he could – I’ll send his wife a card. Felix could have cried when alone, however, until then, emotions are held at bay in prison life. An additional  sad part of this story is,  another friend will not be there to meet Felix when he is freed. Dr. McCay Vernon wanted to see that day so badly – he will indeed be sorely missed. 

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.

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.

Dr. McCay Vernon Passes Away

By BitcoDavid

From our Author’s page:
McCay Vernon is the inspiration behind DeafInPrison.com. Upon learning of Felix Garcia’s plight in Florida, Vernon contacted Joanne Greenberg about writing a book regarding the struggles of Deaf inmates. Ms. Greenberg liked the idea, but thought a Blog site may be a more effective method of reaching an audience.

McCay Vernon has worked for over fifty-five years to improve the lives of both deaf and deaf-blind individuals through his research on major medical and psychological aspects of these conditions. This research has been coupled with strong advocacy for the use of sign language, mental health services, full legal rights, improved education and better vocational services and opportunities. To this end, he has written over 200 journal articles and book chapters, 11 books and scripts for twenty documentary films on deafness and deaf-blindness. Included among them, a major contribution to “They Grow in Silence,” winner of the 1970 Public Broadcasting Award for Public Service Programs.

***

Dr. Vernon was known by all who worked with him as a kind and gentle man. He devoted his life to helping the Deaf, the deaf-blind and the mentally ill, particularly those behind bars. He wrote countless books and articles on a wide range of social and psychological subjects. He was a good friend to our Publisher, Joanne Greenberg, and our contributor Pat Bliss. I myself knew him when I was a child, but my memory of him fails me. In our numerous conversations during the launch phase of this Web site however, I was struck by the fact that his memory of me was much clearer.

As a child, I managed to impress a great man. I can only hope that as an adult, I’ll be able to live up to what expectations he may have had. Dr. Vernon, you will indeed, be sadly missed.

A commemorative page has been set up at https://www.facebook.com/pages/In-Honor-of-Mac-Vernon/497356137020470

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.

We Got ‘em on the Run

By BitcoDavid

Talila Lewis of HEARD sent out an e-mail describing the Florida DOC’s new regulation prohibiting inmates from posting to Internet sites, or – more importantly – having non-inmates post to sites, for them.  A forward within that e-mail, from the Florida Justice Institute, describes the new regs in detail. The ruling would forbid inmates from establishing accounts or maintaining an Internet presence on any Web site. Further, Inmates who have existing accounts would be required to close those accounts, in writing, via the U.S. mails. Florida already prevents inmates from using computers, going online or using e-mail.

Here’s a block quote of the actual ruling as issued by the Florida DOC.

33-602.208 Inmate Internet Presence.
(1) Establishment of accounts or presence on internet websites by inmates.
(a) Inmates are prohibited from establishing or maintaining an account, or any other presence, on any internet website.
(b) Internet website means an internet-based website that has any of the following capabilities:
1. Allows users to create web pages or profiles about themselves, including dedicated websites, blogs, or other online communities, that are available to the general public or to any other users.
2. Offers a mechanism for communication among users, including but not limited to directory, forum, chat room, electronic mail, or instant messaging.
(c) Account or presence means the inmate has an actual account in their name which is created and maintained either by the inmate or by a proxy whereby information is posted about the inmate.
(d) Inmates who create an internet account or have a presence created with the assistance of another person shall be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with Rules 33-601.301-.314, F.A.C. If an inmate alleges that an account or presence was created without his assistance or permission or that the account or presence was created before this restriction became effective, it is the responsibility of the inmate to request that the account or presence be removed by submitting a written request, within 10 days, to the owner, operator, or administrator of the site if it is reasonably possible for the Department to identify the physical address of such entity. No inmate shall be subject to discipline if the account or presence is not removed subsequent to submission of the written request. If it is not reasonably possible for the Department to identify the physical address of the owner, operator, or administrator of the site in which the account or presence is located, the inmate must submit Form DC6-236, Inmate Request, to the warden indicating that the account or presence was created without the inmate’s knowledge or consent or that it was placed prior to this restriction. The inmate shall be subject to disciplinary action only if it is discovered that the inmate solicited the creation of the account or presence and that it was created subsequent to this restriction. Form DC6-236, Inmate Request, is incorporated by reference in Rule 33-103.005, F.A.C.
(e) Inmates who post information to the internet or have information posted with the assistance of another person shall be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with Rules 33-601.301-.314, F.A.C. If an inmate alleges that information was posted without his assistance or permission or that the information was posted before this restriction became effective, it is the responsibility of the inmate to request that the information be removed by submitting a written request, within 10 days, to the owner, operator, or administrator of the site in which the information is located if it is reasonably possible for the Department to identify the physical address of such entity. No inmate shall be subject to discipline if the information is not removed subsequent to submission of the written request. If it is not reasonably possible for the Department to identify the physical address of the owner, operator, or administrator of the site in which the information is located, the inmate must submit Form DC6-236, Inmate Request, to the warden indicating that the information was posted without the inmate’s knowledge or consent or that it was posted prior to this restriction. The inmate shall be subject to disciplinary action only if it is discovered that the inmate solicited the posting of the information and that it was posted subsequent to this restriction.

Attorney General Pam Bondi

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. I wonder if she reads DeafInPrison.com. As much as I put up her picture, you’d think she’d be a fan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now here’s the thing. Felix Garcia – as you all well know – has one hell of an Internet presence. I must confess that I’m responsible for a big chunk of that, albeit not all of it. Felix’s first foray into the world of Internet media came from an article in Mother Jones Magazine by James Ridgeway. DeafInPrison.com however, has not only chronicled – and is still chronicling – his story, but we created the petition site, post on his behalf to FaceBook, Twitter and all the other big social networks, and we maintain a page, specifically for Felix on FaceBook.

So, I guess all that means, Pam Bondi‘s got me in her sights. I’ll be breakin’ rocks in the hot sun. But you know what? I’m not going to quit. Even after Felix is free, DeafInPrison.com will remain committed to seeking justice for the Deaf and HoH incarcerated in America, for the wrongfully convicted, and for all inmates who suffer injustice, maltreatment or abuse in America’s prisons.

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.

July 2013 at DeafInPrison.com

By BitcoDavid

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.

June 2013 at DeafInPrison.com

By BitcoDavid

Boy, this month just snuck up and bit me! Here, a day late, is June’s retrospective embed.

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

Felix’s Story Serialized Pt. 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.

Over 400 Signatures for Felix

By BitcoDavid

I was delightfully surprised when checking Felix’s petition, this morning. We’ve finally gotten out of the 300s, where we’ve been stuck for months. We are now the longest lived, and largest petition, since this case went public. As Pat Bliss stated in her last update, the clemency hearing for Felix is underway now. We need to get his petition delivered to Pam Bondi, Governor Scott and the rest of the cabinet members immediately. And we can’t do that until we have those 1000 signatures.

Please sign the petition, share it with your friends on FaceBook, Twitter and all the other social networks. E-mail it those, whom you believe can help. An innocent Deaf man is counting on us. He’s been seeking the justice that is rightfully due him, for over 30 years.

 

Felix, it turns out, is good with computers. In fact, he’s actually written several programs in use today, for the Florida DOC. Wouldn’t it be great to see this man who’s had his entire youth stolen from him, complete his education and perhaps find a place in the computer industry? Or think of the book he could write. Maybe the contribution this deeply devout Christian can make to the religious community.

No matter what he does, Felix must be freed. He deserves the chance at a life. He deserves Justice.

So, when you’re friends ask what you did today, you can either respond with the usual – nothing, or you can say you helped a Deaf man, framed in a murder case – and wrongfully imprisoned for 30 years – finally, win back his freedom. Please! Please! Make it the latter.

In case you missed it, in its many locations on the site and in this post, here’s the link to this vital petition:

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

Please understand that Felix’s clemency is up to the Judge, the lawyers – the court. But this petition, especially when delivered into the hands of power in the state of Florida, can have a profound impact on the final outcome of those hearings.

[Editor's Note: You can see Felix's amazing 8 part video interview with Pat Bliss and James Ridgeway, on our site. Links to all 8 segments can be found in our right hand sidebar. But for convenience, I have included a link to the first segment here. -- BitcoDavid]

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.

A First for Florida Deaf Prisoner Felix Garcia

By Pat Bliss

[This article has been edited to remove the specific names of the researcher and her institution, by request of the original copyright holder - Ed.]

Fist, let me tell you that the clemency action is in motion and the interview article I mentioned in my last update, is on hold due to other commitments at the newspaper.

Something new happened for Felix when he met  a researcher on deaf communication in prisons who came to interview him last Tuesday, June 11, 2013. The researcher contacted me that she would like to do an interview. I led her to the proper authorities, she made the arrangements and the interview took place at Tomoka Correctional Institution.

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

But it was much more than your usual interview. You see, she is deaf and her language is ASL. Have you ever met someone new and wanted to just sit down and talk to get acquainted? You exchanged personal stories, your likes and dislikes, dreams and ambitions. You could carry on a conversation because you spoke the same language, you understood each other. This happened for the first time EVER in Felix’s life – that is, sitting down and having a normal conversation which he could be a part of and understand all what was said.

How is this so? While living in the free world, Felix was going deaf due to a untreated ear infection from the age of 3. When he was of age to have friends to hang around with, his hearing was cloudy as the disease was eating away his ear drum, puss leaking and suffering from migraine headaches and throwing up. He was not a kid who people would gravitate to. But he could not enjoy any communication anyway since he couldn’t understand what was said in an entire sentence, didn’t comprehend what the meanings were of words since he did not hear the teachers teaching - especially in high school English and Composition. Felix didn’t know what was happening but he felt he was not normal, he was different. A horrible event happened where Felix was arrested for a crime he didn’t commit but it was in prison he found out he was Deaf, and fellow inmates taught him how to Sign, to talk and pronounce words. That was the beginning of being able to interact with people – with full understanding.

The researcher comes in to interview. They are taken to a small room inside the visiting park area. At first he is prepared for an interview with pad and pen but she tells him to put it away, this is different. She opens with telling him something about herself in Sign. He signed back something about himself.  This two way conversation continued for about 3 hours. Felix was ecstastic. He never had an interview like this before, where he got to exchange ideas and convey his own thoughts - his way, in Sign. Felix called me and said “Mom, she is just like me!” [Felix refers to Ms. Bliss as "Mom." - Ed.] He realized there are Deaf out on the streets whom he can communicate with, as any normal human being. It was truly a eye opening moment for Felix. He has new hope of surviving when he gets his freedom. She is excited to have met such an exceptional deaf prisoner. She told me Felix is so different from the others, that he gripped her heart with his honesty and openness. We ended our Video Relay call with her words “I can’t walk away”. I said “I know, that is the reaction from everyone who meets him.”

[Editor's Note: We are still desperate for signatures on Felix's Pardon Petition. I have included the link on 2 of the 3 above graphics, but here it is as well, unformatted so it can be pasted into your address bar if necessary.

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

Please consider signing this important petition. We still need about 600 signatures before we can send it off to the Florida authorities, and we want very much for that to coincide with his Clemency Hearing. Thank you in advance - 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.

May 2013 at DeafInPrison.com

By BitcoDavid

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.

 

Digest Post – 4/5/13

By BitcoDavid

Well, our post-a-day streak was broken yesterday, but before you go thinking I dropped the ball, I want you to know I was busy drumming up some Supporter Contributions that will be going up this week.

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

In keeping with our editorial priority list, the first order of business in today’s digest post is a brief update on Felix’s case. From Pat Bliss:

Felix had a video interview by a
reporter from a major Florida newspaper, this week. His clemency
action is on track. He is now living in the Faith Dorm and is doing
quite well there.

I do wish I had a little more to report. Unfortunately, that’s all Ms. bliss sent. We have picked up a few new signatures on the petition site. This petition is still a necessary and powerful tool to help persuade Pam Bondi and the other members of Florida law enforcement – including Governor Scott, that Felix deserves the justice that has eluded him for the past 30+ years.

Attorney General Pam Bondi

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Please click the link – here – or on either of our sidebars, and sign this vital petition. Felix Garcia has served a lifetime in prison – a Deaf man – for a crime he has long since been proven not guilty of.

Again, here’s the link to our petition to grant Felix a full pardon.

***

In life – I believe – everybody searches for their own personal title fight. You go toe to toe with whoever or whatever comes along, but your end game is always that big fish. Everybody wants to bag the elephant. I use this to explain my ongoing love-hate relationship with the venerable Gray Lady - the New York Times. Now – I go to the Times for sources on posts, but there will come a day, when the Lady herself will not print a story without first checking DeafInPrison.com.

Anyway, directly from herself , comes this update on the Clements case.

But weeks after Mr. Clements’s killing, investigators are still trying
to sort out whether the death was in fact a gang-ordered hit or the act of a lone gunman whose years in solitary confinement may have nurtured paranoia and a hatred of prison officials.

One of the school's administrators - OJ Keller with the tools of the trade. Photo: White House Boys

OJ Keller holding his only two friends. Photo: White House Boys

They make mention of the fact that Clements was working on eliminating the use of solitary confinement in Colorado’s prison system – a fact that I find staggering in its irony. In every report I’ve read, Clements is described as a tireless reformer who has dedicated his career to making prison more humane for the inmates – the very opposite of a fire and brimstone – law and order type such as  O.J. Keller of the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys. An infamous, vicious torturer, and corrupt administrator.

In quoting James F. Austin, a consultant who worked with Clements in his efforts to improve Colorado’s prisons, the Times wrote, “This has just never happened before in the history of corrections,” Dr.
Austin said. “What would be the value of the gang doing that, except to
bring incredible heat both on and off the street?” He added that the gangs “like to do their thing without much attention,
especially with a director who is doing everything he could to make the
prison safer and more comfortable.” — NYT

But law enforcement officials said on Thursday that they could not rule out the possibility that Mr. Ebel — who died after he was wounded in a shootout and a chase with Texas police officers and sheriff’s deputies northwest of Dallas on March 21 — was acting on orders from the leaders of the 211 Crew.

A search is continuing for two members of the gang known to have had contact with Mr. Ebel recently, said Lt. Jeff Kramer, a spokesman for the El Paso County sheriff’s office in Colorado. He called the men, James Lohr, 47, and Thomas Guolee, 31, “persons of interest” but stopped short of saying they were suspects in the case. Both are also wanted on warrants for unrelated crimes, Lieutenant Kramer said, and are thought to be armed and dangerous.

Even in this great shot of the accident scene, no sign of a truck – or a trucker. Photo:NYT

And still, no word on the trucker whom Ebel t-boned in his 100mph escape attempt in Texas. A guy climbs into his rig one morning, and out of nowhere a psychopath driving what passes nowadays for a Cadillac, creams him. I’m just sayin’, it’d be nice to give him just one line, in the reams of coverage this story has gotten.

Here’s the story as covered by that other news source – the NYT.

***

 

Finally, a reminder that this coming Wednesday, H.E.A.R.D. will be hosting their public meeting at Gallaudet. Here’s the PDF embed.

 

This event is listed on our Events Page, and here’s a link to the above embed.

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.

Marsha Graham Part 2

By BitcoDavid

I strongly suggest you watch these two videos. Ms. Graham’s personal story is fascinating, and her insight into the Deaf Community and law enforcement is both informed and entertaining. — BD

[OK. It looks to be good now. I went back to the original mpeg, re-edited it and re-rendered it.]

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

Marsha Graham’s Presentation Part 1

By BitcoDavid

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.

Marsha Graham’s Presentation at the Symposium

By BitcoDavid

A particularly eerie image from the film Brazil. Credit, Filmicability

A particularly eerie image from the film Brazil. Credit, Filmicability

Marsha Graham, from AnotherBoomerBlog, has been a great supporter and an even greater asset to us, here at DeafInPrison.com. In her presentation at the Internationl Symposium on the Deaf and the Justice System, she drew a comparison between the Deaf and the insular Native American cultures she has also worked with, in Alaska.

She pointed out the similarities between the two cultures, stressing the linguistic and literacy limitations, making the point that if someone can’t understand what’s going on during a trial, they can’t be said to be competent in their own defense. She went on to stress the need for interpreters – or at the very least, some form of communication assistance – from the very first contact between law enforcement and members of the Deaf community.

Ms. Graham, also mentioned the case of Lashonn White, which we’ve covered, as well as the Felix Garcia Case. Ms. White, you may recall, was the woman who called the police after being attacked in her home. When the cruisers arrived, she ran out of her house, screaming and waving her arms – believing them to be her salvation. When she failed to stop her advance on the officers – unable to hear their commands to stop – they tased her multiple times, and put her in jail. She stayed there, unaware as to what was going on, for 4 days. Felix Garcia on the other hand is an individual whom we have been working – since our launch a year ago – to secure release for. Our contributor Pat Bliss, has been working directly with Felix on his case for many years prior to that.

The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia

The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Marsha also gave DeafInPrison.com a little well needed shout-out, which we gratefully appreciate. She mentioned Pat Bliss and our publisher, Joanne Greenberg, by name.

She stressed the need for interpreters, emphasized the advantages of live interpreting over C.A.R.T. and spelled out examples of where the justice system failed to provide adequate services for the Deaf. She also spoke of her own deafness, and how that impacted her abilities as a trial lawyer when working in noisy courtrooms. She said that judges want to move cases along, and become annoyed when interpreters are late, or when seemingly competent defendants request them. I found myself reminded of that old song, The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia, “The judge said guilty in a make believe trial, Slapped the sherrif on the back with a smile and said Suppers waiting at home, and I gotta get to it.”

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

The Theft of Dignity by Pastor Mark Ehrlichmann

By BitcoDavid

Pastor Ehrlichmann is a member of HEARD, and a supporter of the #JusticeForFelix project. Below is a letter he wrote for use in his Ministry, regarding Felix and the plight of all Deaf prisoners. It’s a heartfelt and profound read, and we are grateful to the Pastor for sharing it with us – and for all the work he does for the inmates.

If the text of this document is too small for you to read, you can zoom it in by clicking the magnifying glass icons on the bottom of the embed. You can also view it in full size, by clicking the link directly beneath it.

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

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