A Brief List Regarding Felix Garcia’s Innocence

By Pat Bliss

It has come to my attention that there are many who have commented on the story of deaf inmate Felix Garcia seeking more concrete evidence of his innocence.  I have not finished with the series on the Felix Garcia criminal case. I plan on presenting all the evidence showing innocence. But because it has been asked for now, I will briefly list this evidence that was presented at trial and will be forthcoming:

1. 1983 Trial testimony placing Felix at another location.
2. 1983 Trial testimony devoid of physical proof Felix was there (13 fingerprints of Frank Garcia were.)
3. A 1989 Statement/Affidavit by co-defendant Frank Garcia admitting he killed the victim and Felix is innocent of any knowledge of the crime.

4. Two 1996 Affidavits, one by Frank and one by his sister, Tina (a participant), stating Felix had nothing to do with the planning and committing of the crime.

5. From 2001 – 2005 seven inmates, former friends of Frank at different institutions, sent me their affidavits where Frank confessed to them he was responsible for his innocent brother Felix being in prison.
6. 2006 Evidentiary Hearing, a confession by Frank that Felix was innocent and had nothing to do with the crime.
I’d like to add that if I – as a volunteer paralegal, who has used personal finances and much of my free time – thought for one moment, Felix was guilty, I would not have spent almost 17 years on this case. I am as convinced today as I was at the beginning. In fact, all who have met him while I have been on this case, including his current pro bono clemency attorney, have come away believing he is absolutely innocent. I wish everyone with doubts could have the opportunity to meet Felix.
After the verdict chapter, I will highlight the appeals and post-conviction actions that will introduce these actual court documents.Then this should bring you up to the present where we are now in a clemency action. Pardons are a form of clemency. The Petition with all its signatures will be quite helpful when our action gets the attention of the Florida Governor and his Clemency Board. For this, I am grateful to you all for signing.
Sincerely, Pat Bliss
[Editor's Note: We only have a little over 400 signatures left to go! Please! Please! Go to
Thank you for all your support,
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.

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.

Remember We Are Picture People

By Pat Bliss

Image: Pat Bliss

Image: Pat Bliss

I just came back from my third trip to Florida in 4 1/2 months. Each trip had a purpose as a step further to show the innocence of Felix Garcia and towards his freedom. Felix may not be fully cognizant of what all these meetings/interviews      mean to him but he certainly participates with all his might, and answers questions to the best of his ability.

This trip involved Felix being interviewed by a reporter for a major Florida newspaper. Our scheduled appointment began at 9 A.M. But, there are procedures one must go through up front. Before being allowed into the prison, we gave the staff at the outside window, our IDs. They checked these IDs with their computer roster. When it was Okayed, and because we were going in as media, we all got special badges. The heavy metal gates clinked open and we went on inside – first, to be searched; all rings, bracelets, watches, eyeglasses accounted for. Oh yes, cannot forget the car key. The reporter had a pen and pad and of course, the camera equipment for taking pictures. Staff led us into the visiting area for the interview. The visiting area at Tomoka comprises of one enclosed large room with a canteen. From this room, you can go through double doors to a fairly large semi-enclosed room with barred windows. this room opens to the outside area, where there are concrete picnic tables. Everything is enclosed in barbwire. We settled for the middle room with its large picnic type tables.

A generic visiting room, not the one at Tomoka.http://bahlool.deviantart.com/art/Prison-visiting-room-99587324

A generic visiting room, not the one at Tomoka.
http://bahlool.deviantart.com/art/Prison-visiting-room-99587324

As per past interviews we’ve had, it was a very emotional time. Felix is so open and expressive. In my title, I said picture people, meaning that the deaf relate to pictures – not words – in general. Felix told me the reason for this, is the Deaf dictionary and the hearing world’s dictionaries are inches apart (he showed me the difference with his fingers). So, Felix tells much of his story to the reporter by demonstration. He is so precise, as to exactly what took place, that no one could misunderstand what he was saying.  Sign interpreter, Cheryl Santana from Interpreter Source in St. Augustine, was the conduit between us hearing people and Felix in understanding one another.

[Editor's note: ASL interpreters view their clients with the same level of confidentiality as do doctors and lawyers. Generally, they ask that we don't print their names. To facilitate those seeking interpreter services, in the Florida area, I have left the company name intact. --BitcoDavid]

Felix can read lips and speak pretty well but he’s not wise in formal settings for legal visits or media interviews – room for misinterpretation comes into play. During the interview, the camera operator was clicking away. She must have taken at least a hundred pictures. We were limited as to where the cameras would be shooting so not to include any wire fences or other inmates in the background. The interview should be in print in about 2-3 months. I will definitely let DeafInPrison.com know when it comes out, so it can have a link available to you readers.

I stayed over the weekend with a friend in Daytona Beach Shores and visited with Felix. The procedure as a visitor is the same for access inside the prison except there is a hand scan machine to put my right hand in to identify me electronically.  Once Felix arrived and we found seats, we talked about what is going on with his supporters, his prison life and anything else we could think of. The acoustics are very bad in these rooms. The noise (people talking loudly) around me was unbelievable to the degree that I was “deaf” in understanding much of what he was saying. There is also the fact our communication is not perfect and misunderstandings do occur. So Felix was thinking ahead. He had a pen handy, grabbed a few white napkins, and what I could not understand, he printed in brief sentences to get his point across. Or, if there was something I needed to remember, I would write it down and show him to be sure I understood what he said.  Nevertheless, one thing stood out. The phrase he repeatedly said many times. “Remember, we are picture people.” I took note of that and was quite aware then, as to why he drew diagrams a lot – it was in order for me to better understand what he was trying to convey.

On my way home, I was thinking about the phrase “we are picture people” and realized over the years, that Felix was in the habit of drawing – he would draw for clarity. Strangely, it wasn’t until this past weekend that I fully understood this was a Deaf trait in communication. I have come to appreciate the pictures in a new light.

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.

Eighth and Final Chapter in the Felix Garcia Video Series

By BitcoDavid

Here, at long last is chapter 8 in our video interview series with innocent Deaf inmate, Felix Garcia. Those of you who have followed us on this journey know that Felix has served 30 years – so far – for a crime he didn’t commit. DeafInPrison.com is one among many who have worked to try to gain Felix his freedom.

This video is owned and copyrighted by James Ridgeway of SolitaryWatch.com. It can’t be copied, reproduced or embedded, but you are of course welcome to share the link to this page.

Tomorrow, I will put up a post containing links to all 8 chapters in sequence. That way, those of you who haven’t seen them all, will be able to do so.

As you know, there is a petition available where you can help deliver this vital message to the Governor of Florida, the Attorney General and 2 influential cabinet members. Here’s that link.

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

If you’d like to make a financial contribution to the court case, you can send a check or MO to

Reginald R. Garcia P.A.

PO Box 11069

Tallahassee, FL 32302

Write “For Felix Garcia” on the memo line.

This is a trust fund established to pay for incidental expenses necessary for the case. The attorney is working pro bono, and neither DeafInPrison.com, BitcoDavid BlogSites nor any of our contributors will receive any of the funds.

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.

Related articles

Felix’s Story Serialized Pt. 1

By Pat Bliss

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

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

A Brief Update on Felix

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

I, among others, receive a lot of letters from the prison population that generally contain adverse circumstances and their need to tell someone on the outside what is really going on – on the inside. That is good. We need to know in order to alert those who can help.

But, there are still good things going on inside the prisons, even if it only involves one prisoner at a time. Let me give you an example of what I mean. As you know, I am serializing the criminal case of deaf inmate Felix Garcia.  In addition, you have seen the videos of an interview that Washington Correspondent, James Ridgeway and I had with Felix in 2011. Felix writes me weekly, and tells me his days’ activities and the bad stuff that goes on, but every once in awhile he writes about something good in his life. Here is one particular accomplishment, which I wish to share with you.

Here in his own words Felix wrote:

On a good note I went and made my speech. Because of my nervousness I stoped and prayed. When I opened my eyes all I saw was all my friends. Mr. H., J., S., V. and you right up front. God knows how to help me and in my prayers I said Lord you lead I’ll follow. I went in stomping said my testimony as I held the microphone and walked among the crowd touching some in silent prayer. At the end everyone was on there feet shouting, clapping, crying. As tears ran down my face all I could do was point up and give him the glory. I did not know how much it affected the people untill I went to the yard and many of them said “awsome,” “blessed,” “thank you,” wow! How can I tell them it was not me but God. It’s never us but through me he did a wonderful thing and I believe lives have been touched and will be changed.

Felix and Pat Bliss, Christmas 2011 Image courtesy Pat Bliss

I was certainly moved at Felix seeing this reality. For so many months now, since his story first came out end of December 2011 on MotherJones.com, it has touched peoples’ hearts and has generated a large group of advocates to help him attain his freedom. However, being locked up in prison one knows nothing of what is going on out in the world unless they see it on TV, receive outside information or are told. Well, I have told him – over and over – how his life story has impacted other deaf in prison and on the outside, and the hearing world as well. But when you yourself don’t believe it, it means nothing. Now that he believes it in his heart, his life has purpose and meaning for others. That is something that happened in a cold prison room, where oppression abounds. But the spirit of hope is still alive and that cannot be taken away from any prisoner, as shown by the responses Felix got from his fellow prisoners.

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

I mentioned this particular event in Felix’s life because it is a turning point. What happened to Felix should never have happened to anyone – being falsely blamed and imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Instead of getting bitter, he has chosen to look back and see the positive changes in his character as a gift from God, and has come to the conclusion that his life story is meant to heal others. What greater gift can one give to oneself than that?

[Editor's Note: Pat has informed me that attorneys are working on Felix's case, and should be ready take things to the next level very soon. In the meantime, DeafInPrison.com is working on getting signatures for a petition that will be sent to - among others - the Governor of Florida, seeking a full pardon for Felix.

Any help we can get will be greatly appreciated by both DeafInPrison.com and by Felix himself. Please sign our petition at:

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

Please, share this link on FaceBook or Tweet with hashtag #JusticeForFelix.

Thank you for all you do,

BitcoDavid]

Mini-post: Update #JusticeForFelix

161 Signers so far. Don’t drop the ball. Felix still needs you. Sign @ http://www.thepetitionsite.com/453/783/026/felix-garcia-should-be-granted-a-full-pardon/ Tweet #JusticeForFelix

September at DeafInPrison.com

Deaf Awareness Week – Day 6, Felix Interview Section 7

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

I’m glad to be able to finally bring you the 7th installment in our series with Felix Garcia, in prison, and being interviewed by Jim Ridgeway and Pat Bliss. As always, this intellectual property is under the explicit copyright of Jim Ridgeway and cannot be shared, downloaded or reblogged, but you are by all means, encouraged to share the link.

Producing these videos represents a tremendous amount of work, by all concerned, and it is for that reason that they take so long for us to make available to you.

In keeping with Deaf Awareness Week, and the fact that Yesterday, September 28th was Felix’s 51st birthday – his 30th behind bars, I would be deeply grateful if you would take just a moment to sign our petition, after viewing this moving and informative video.

http://deafinprison.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/deaf-awareness-week-day-5-happy-birthday-felix/

Links to the petition also can be found in both sidebars, and here’s a link to the actual petition site page.

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

So, without further ado, here’s Felix #7:

Deaf Awareness Week – Day 5 **Happy Birthday, Felix!**

The following is a letter that will be sent to the Attorney General, two influential cabinet members and the Governor of Florida regarding a full pardon for Felix Garcia. Those of you who have been following this site, know that Felix is an innocent Deaf man who has served over 30 years for a crime he never committed.

Here’s the link to where you can go to sign this letter and the associated petition.

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

 

Image Courtesy of Pat Bliss

Office of Cabinet Affairs

The Capitol

Tallahassee, FL 32399

Dear [Attorney General Pam Bondi] [CFO Jeff Atwater] [Commissioner Adam Putnam]:

I am writing to ask you to recommend to Governor Rick Scott that Felix Garcia be granted a full pardon. New evidence has made it clear that Mr. Garcia, a deaf man framed for murder, has been unjustly held in prison for more than three decades. Felix’s story of unjust imprisonment by Florida authorities has been put into the national spotlight by James Ridgeway, one of America’s premier investigative journalists, in an article for Mother Jones. It is time for you to act on this new evidence.

In 2006, Frank Garcia, Felix’s brother, finally confessed in court that Felix had nothing to do with the murder and armed robbery of Joseph Tramontana in Hillsborough County on August 3rd, 1981. Frank’s 2006 testimony stated outright that the crimes had been committed by himself and Ray Stanley alone, and that Felix “had nothing to do with it.” During the 1981 trial, Frank, his sister Tina, and Tina’s boyfriend (Ray Stanley) conspired to lie under oath that Felix killed Tramontana. The three of them planned the crime together and then took advantage of Felix’s deafness to pin the crime on him.

There is overwhelming reason to believe that Felix Garcia, who entered jail in 1981 at the age of 19, is innocent. Frank’s fingerprints were found at the scene of the crime, while eyewitness testimony puts Felix five miles away, watching a movie and eating pizza at his girlfriend’s house. Physical evidence proves this: Felix signed a receipt for a pizza that was delivered to his girlfriend’s house at the time of the crime. Furthermore, Felix’s girlfriend and her mother testified in court that Felix was with them that night.

Nonetheless, during the 2006 review of Felix’s case, a judge denied freedom for Felix, stating that he “couldn’t discern the truth.” His confusion rested on the one piece of physical evidence linking Felix to the crime, a pawn ticket (for Tramontana’s pinky ring) which Frank asked Felix to sign because Frank told his brother that he “forgot his ID.” Frank’s 2006 testimony, however, makes it clear that the pawn ticket is irrelevant.

In your consideration of whether to recommend pardon for Felix after 31 years of unjust imprisonment, please consider that at the 1981 trial, Felix was not given the proper accommodations due a deaf person. As a result, Felix understood very little of what was said. Worse, in the 30 years since then, Felix has suffered the physical and mental abuse common among deaf inmates: rape, isolation, and neglect.

Please recommend that Felix Garcia be fully pardoned. Please do not thwart justice by keeping an innocent man in prison any longer. Let Felix have his life back.

Sincerely,

CC:  Governor Rick Scott

Felix turns 51 today, and they haven’t been good years. What better way to celebrate both his birthday, and Deaf Awareness Week, than to show him our support in his Sisyphean struggle to receive justice.

 

Day 1, Deaf Awareness Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

English: Graphical representation of frequency...

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

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

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

There but for the grace of God, go I.

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

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

A Brief Update

English: Logo for Thousand Kites, a non-profit...

Logo for Thousand Kites, a non-profit organization aimed at prison reform. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After quite some time, we are finally in a correspondence with Thousand Kites Campaign: Justice Silenced. They publish videos about prison reform and discrimination against the Deaf. I’m in the process of getting them to release some of those videos to us for captioning and publication here on DeafInPrison.com.

Pat Bliss’s 22nd chapter of the story of Felix Garcia’s arrest, trial and eventual conviction is finally up on Bliss-2This is the definitive story of the trial of a Deaf man who has spent the last 30-odd years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Rss Logo Clip Art

Look for this image anywhere on our site, and you will find links to the latest news and blog posts from around the Web.
Image: Creative Commons License.

You may have noticed that we’ve added a number of RSS feeds in both our left and right sidebar columns. These feeds will provide the latest links from a number of news services and resources that we think you may be interested in. Please click on some of these links while browsing our site.

The 6th installment of our video interview with Felix Garcia is up now. There are 2 installments left in the series, and they will be coming on line over the next couple of weeks. In this installment, Felix talks about communication issues between the hearing and the Deaf. He gives us some insight into the linguistic differences between Sign and spoken English. He also talks about his self taught computer skills – and about his trial.

Pat Bliss and I are working on getting a letter up on the site that will tie into an automated mailing to members of the Florida Cabinet, regarding Felix’s release.

English: Chart showing prison population in se...

Chart showing prison population in selected countries of the world per 100,000 population Data taken from World Prison Population List (eighth edition) by Roy Walmsley International Centre for Prison Studies, King’s College, London, 2008 Value for China includes 850,000 held in administrative custody (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HEARD – an organization we have a deep and abiding respect for – is working on a similar letter campaign, and if possible, we will try and tie the two projects together. Also, HEARD has honored me with an administration position on their FaceBook page. Posts on our site should start appearing on their page just as soon as all this broken code starts doing what it’s supposed to do.

Here’s a closing pic for you.

Cash advocated prison reform at his July 1972 ...

Johnny Cash was a huge advocate of prison reform. As well as performing at some of America’s most notorious prisons, Cash advocated prison reform at his July 1972 meeting with United States President Richard Nixon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Letter From Felix Garcia to HEARD

Image courtesy Pat Bliss

This is a letter I received from HEARD. It is Felix’s most plaintive communication yet. We really need to help this innocent man gain his freedom.

Here’s the PDF link to his latest letter.

Felix – HEARD letter

As I work on these videos, I come to see Felix as an intelligent, compassionate, ethical and witty individual who would make a wonderful contribution to society. He deserves his chance.

Finally! Felix #6 is Up!

Here’s the 6th installment in our interview series with Felix Garcia, in prison. Copyright Jim Ridgeway, Interviewers Jim Ridgeway and Pat Bliss, Tech and captions, Me :), and our awesome wonderful interpreter still opts for confidentiality – but I’m working on her. We’ll make a rock star of her yet.

So, enjoy – here’s Felix Garcia Interview Part 6.

After a Break; Felix Part Five

Here’s part 5 – the beginning of disc 2 – in the interview of Felix Garcia in prison, as conducted by Jim Ridgeway and Pat Bliss. Felix is much calmer in this section, and he talks frankly about communication issues, language barriers and lip-reading. He is – by the way – an excellent lip-reader, and he provides some marvelous insight into this difficult and complex method of communication.

Again, as before stated. This is the property of Jim Ridgeway, who owns the copyright. The captions and tech work were done by me, and our wonderful and talented interpreter – without whom none of this would be possible – chooses to remain uncredited. The video cannot be copied or downloaded, but by all means, please feel free to link back to it.

Felix in His Own Words Part 4 – End of Disc 1

This is the fourth video in our series of interviews with Felix Garcia – an innocent Deaf man who has served 30+ years for a crime he didn’t commit. In this particular installment, there were portions where 2 or more individuals were speaking at the same time. In those cases, I tried to put them both on the same caption line – delineated by initials.

Here’s the embedded video:

And here’s the PDF Transcript:

Felix transcript 4

Felix Garcia Interview Part 3

This is part 3 in our series, “Felix Garcia in His Own Words.” It’s already captioned and ready for your viewing. For those of you who enjoy a written transcript, please click the link below the video for a PDF. Part 4 – the end of Disc 1 – is being interpreted now, and will be ready next week.

Felix Garcia Interview Part 3 Transcript

Felix Part II is Now Captioned

The captioning is now complete on the 2nd installment of the video series “Felix Garcia in his Own Words.”

http://deafinprison.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/felix-in-his-own-words-part-2/

The 3rd installment has been interpreted and will be posted with captions and a PDF transcript within a couple of days.

Four Reblogs

Image: DeafInPrison.com

The Felix Interview series is really something that you need to see. Although it’s only been available to us for a few weeks, it is the culmination of several years of work by James Ridgeway and Pat Bliss.

In fact, Felix’s prison interview is a monumental labor. Technically, it has involved video editing and compression, cross-country file sharing, a Sign language interpreter, audio editing, mixing and post production – as well as the creation and coding of the transcripts. During the course of this week, I will be adding captions for our Deaf and HOH readers – and the remaining 6 installments will all be captioned.

We’re all working our :)s off, but believe me – it’s well worth it. This might well be the best thing we’ve ever presented on DeafInPrison.com.

In the meantime however, we still have other things we need to post. Here are 4 articles that have come to my attention over the past few days.

http://prisonmovement.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/destroying-the-soul/

This is an article published by PrisonMovement’s Weblog – taken from the Washington Post – about solitary confinement. DeafInPrison is very much concerned with solitary confinement due to the parallels between this horrific and draconian punishment, and the plight of Deaf inmates. Deaf inmates are often housed in environments where there are no other Deaf, and where the guards and staff are not trained in how to communicate with the Deaf. This is in essence a form of solitary confinement within the crowded general population.

Furthermore, since the behavior of a Deaf inmate – who is unable to understand the rules – is viewed as disobedience, they are often placed in actual physical solitary confinement. Many have been thus confined for years and even decades.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/reducing-solitary-confinement/2012/07/07/gJQAlOSWUW_story.html

This is a reader’s letter and comments to another WaPo article on solitary confinement.

http://prisonmovement.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/its-been-18-years-now-its-time-for-justice/

Throughout the Blogosphere, there are numerous sites that deal with the Justice system and Penology in the U.S. and around the World. PrisonMovement’s Weblog is one of the best. This story is a call to action for a young woman, Sara Kruzan. Sara was sold into sexual slavery as a minor, and eventually won her freedom by killing her pimp. She has been in prison for the crime, for 18 years now.

Links are provided in the article, as well as a template letter and some other hints and tips for what you can do to help this victim of a broken judicial system.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mandatory-life-without-parole-for-juveniles-serves-no-one/2012/07/06/gJQAHrJeSW_story.html?wpisrc=nl_cuzheads

This is an op-ed, also from the Washington Post. It discusses the moral question of life without parole sentencing for juvenile offenders.

Well, that’s pretty much what I’ve got for you for today. Please remember to check out our video series of Felix Garcia in his prison interview. These are powerful and disturbing pieces, and they represent the hard work and level of commitment of all those involved with DeafInPrison.com.

Felix in His Own Words Part 2

This is the 2nd installment in our series of interviews with Felix Garcia. Jim Ridgeway and Pat Bliss did the interview. Mr. Ridgeway owns the copyright. Again, our wonderful interpreter set voice to Felix’s powerful words, and I did the tech work involved in synching and mixing the audio and creating the transcript.

This video cannot be reblogged, shared or embedded, but you are welcome to share the link back to here.

Transcript is as follows:

FG: I was scared. There was 5 or 6 officers, surrounding me. I think they came to hurt me. I’m thinking – wow, man! Where am I going to go? How am I going to go? At the other camp, when you were Deaf alone – person – you can’t help yourself. And I was scared.

I had just got a letter from my sister, and she was balling me out, and talking, and I didn’t understand – and I was scared.

I got the sheet. And I was swinging. And I’m thinking – I don’t want to do this – but I couldn’t control myself. I know I need help. I’d gone to the psychiatrist. They don’t help you. They do nothing.

And I’m swinging and swinging. And I’m thinking – no… no… not me. I want to get down. And the officer came – there’s 2 officers. And they stood there watching me. Just watching me. I was stuck. I couldn’t get down. And I passed out. And then the next day, I knew it. I knew I had fallen. I hit my head.

The officer was standing there laughing – ha, ha, ha. And I was scared. I was crying. And I didn’t know where to go, so I dove under the bed. And I was trying to hide.

The officer opened the door. He grabbed my legs, and he drug me out. He pulled me out and he dragged me to another room. He closed the door. It was a smaller room. And a prisoner was there. One that knew some sign. They took my hearing aids and my glasses. I couldn’t see. Nothing. And they’re talking, and yelling, and scolding me. They took my clothes – they left me in there 6 days. I was naked.

And finally, 6 or 7 days later, they took me to the lake. The lake’s very, very nice. There’s a doctor there – a psychologist, and he said – you have a lot of problems. They gave me an interpreter. Finally, for the first time. An interpreter.

We talked, and talked, and talked, and he said – I understand. He told me – you’re going to go to a camp with other deaf people. [clapping] And I thought – oh thank God, thank God.

But I didn’t go. They put me on a bus. They took me to the dorm – here. No phone, no interpreter – nothing. It was hard. Really hard. And then finally, the new assistant Warden came. A very, very nice one. He tried to help me. He set up the phone for the Deaf. He did it.

Now, the assistant Warden – Specs. His name is Specs. Ugh. Ugh. He’s against Deaf people. He’s against us.

PB: The assistant warden is? The assistant Warden is against you.

JR: Really?

The assistant Warden is against the Deaf.

Wait. Did he say that one of the guards pushed him into killing himself?

Well, you were saying that a woman guard encouraged you to try and commit suicide?

No. It wasn’t a guard. It was a nurse. A nurse, at the [Medicine] Correctional. She brought a sheet. And they put me in a room with the sheet, and they said it’s better for you – to hang yourself, because when we come back, we’re going to kick you right out. And they pulled the can of mace out, and they pulled on it. They pulled on it. And so then – we got your report.

They pulled a what?

He pulled the… you know, on the mace can? A can of mace? It has a security lock… he break it – he broke it. He pulled on it.

[illegible]

No.

Yes. And he pulled on that.

Oh, he pulled on that.

He pulled on that. It’s a can of mace. It’s mace. I was in the room. And I know he was going to spray it. It can hurt you.

All because I wanted a battery for my hearing aid. A battery for my hearing aid! All because of that!

And what happened? He’s put in solitary?

They put you in a room for 6 days, and without clothes on?

Yes. With nothing. Nothing.

They did that to Felix in the County jail – when he was in there.

What about food. Did you get food?

Did they bring you your meals?

Yes. Sometimes. Once a day. It would depend on who’s watching. If… if important people were watching? Oh yes. They’d come, and be friendly, and smile, and say – how are you today? – and bring you your meal… but how are the Deaf people supposed… where’s the support? I have to help myself. You can’t help yourself.

With other Deaf people you have an interpreter. Here, at this camp – they have a nurse… that knows Sign language. And they have an officer that knows Sign language. They refuse to let them help me. They refuse.

Yeah. Yeah. They refuse to let the nurse and the officer help me. And they both know Sign language. Both of them know Sign language.

They both can do that, and they won’t do it?

No. They will. But the people here refuse to let them help me.

…refuse to help you. Even though they can? Even though they can sign – they refuse to help you.

Yes, they can sign good.

They want to help me.

They want to help you – but they’re told not to?

Yes! That’s right! Right!

These are other Deaf prisoners?

Who Signs? Other Deaf prisoners or who?

For me?

No. Who is the one that signs?

For me? Nobody.

The people that can sign? Are they officers?

Yes, there’s one officer and one nurse.

And they both can sign

Oh yes! Beautifully! Beautifully!

And they won’t let them help you?

No. I don’t know why. The rules say they must give me an interpreter. For medical.

4/12 is when I arrived here, and this hearing aid was broken. And I tried to get it fixed. They refused to fix it. They refused to fix it.

Wait. What’s he saying? What are you saying?

What are you not fixing?

My hearing aid on this side.

They refused?

They refused. They refused to fix it for me. My hearing aid. And I went into medical…

Your hearing aid, you’re talking about?

Yes!

Your right hearing aid.

Yes. This one – the left.

but they refuse to fix it.

That’s right. They refused.

O.K. Tell me something, Felix. Have those hearing aids helped a lot?

O.K. If I’m out on the street, I don’t use my hearing aid. It doesn’t help me. In prison? Oh, you must have something. To protect yourself. The door – when I’m in the room – a two-man room. It’s best for Deaf people. Do you know why? Because the door locks. And the other prisoners can’t get at you. When the door opens… I sleep with my head on the wall. Because it’s hard for me. But I sleep with my head on the wall.

So you can hear the door

I feel it. And I jump up. I have to protect myself.

But it doesn’t ever help you understand words.

No. No, it’s just to help me protect myself.

This door? This is a different kind of cell door?

The cell door

But it’s like what we’d think of as a regular cell door?

It’s an electrical door. It slides open.

It’s like this kind of door.

No. It’s a sliding door.

Yes. Sliding door. It’s an electrical door. It slides.

Is there a window?

No, there’s no window. It’s solid. You can’t see in. If somebody’s coming in… and they want to try to hurt me… they can hurt me.

Officers never walk around. Never. You’re alone. You’re alone. All you have is yourself.

Now, we’re getting back to that. So now, the door itself, has no window?

It has a little window. A little strip of a window.

So an officer can see in.

No they can’t.

They can’t see in?

No. No they can’t. No, nope. Uh,huh. It’s all scratched up. They do that. The other prisoners. Because people like me – they’re Deaf. They can’t hear. They can’t talk. They can’t see. We’re victims. We’re the victims. They do that. They know that.

How do I say this? People like me… I fight for Deaf people. I try to help them. I go to church with them. I teach them about God. And I write a grievance. I learned over the years to go ahead and grieve – and write it down. To help ourselves. And I show other Deaf people – I say you have to do the grievance the right way. And they see me doing that, and they say – no – and they take me away.

It’s like solitary.

It’s just like solitary.

Your room is solitary.

Oh, yes.

Well, it’s not designated solitary confinement…

It’s open population. But the people in my dorm… they’re H-04s and H-05s. They’re the worst of the worst. Because of my charge. They put me with them. Before, I was in the G-dorm. It was an open dorm, and the officer could see everyone. It was really nice for me. The people couldn’t hurt me. The officer could watch everyone. But now. I’m in a 2-man room. The officer can’t see in. That’s why it’s hard.

But you do not live in a 2-man room.

Yes.

Yes.

This thing he’s describing – that was before.

Well, if I’m wrong – tell me. But what you’re describing – that’s because of your Deafness, your hearing, your eyesight – that’s like living in solitary.

Yes. True. That’s true.

Is that what you’re saying? Even though you’re in a cell?

The door opens, and you come out. For half a day you go over to the yard. At the other camps. But not this camp. This camp is only half a day. You go outside. And the rest of the day, you’re locked in your room. And at count time, you’re locked in your room – the door opens – you come out. It’s like that. If somebody wants…

O.K. Let me clarify. You’re not in solitary confinement.

No. No.

But, you’re in a 2-man cell.

Yes.

And they still lock you in.

Yes. Sometimes. Oh. Every day. 4 or 5 times a day that door locks. Yes. It just keeps locking.

Is there another person – a second person – in the cell with you?

What did he say?

Is there another person in the cell with you?

Yes. Yes.

Is he OK?

Is he OK?

Yeah. Yeah. The one I have now, he’s a good one. He’s a Black. He’s young. He’s a Christian, now. I tell him about God. We study. We study the Bible. I give him questions. He gives me questions. We study it. Yeah. It’s nice. He’s going home in 4 months. But for me? In 4 months? I see him going in 4 months. What’s going to happen then? Who are they going to give me then?
I have to watch myself then. I have to take care of myself. Can I sleep at night? Things like that. It’s hard. I’ve been lucky.

Say that again.

In 4 months – he goes home… my roommate. So right now, I’m happy he’s with me, but in 4 months? What do I have to look forward to? It’s dangerous. Who are they going to give me now?

So… let me speak to him [JR]. This is one thing about the cellmates. Cellmates are very important. With Felix, when he has a good cellmate it makes life tolerable, but they’re always in fear of getting somebody that’s going to harm them.

I understand that, but is he saying that they always constantly have to watch out for somebody that’s going to attack them?

Yes.

So he uses his hearing aid to listen against the door?

O.K. For the guard to open up. He wants to know when that door opens up.

Is it because he’s afraid somebody will open it and come and get him? Or not?

O.K. When you’re in your cell at nighttime – or the door is closed…

The door is closed.

…you want to hear when it’s opened.

Yes. That’s why I sleep with my head against the wall.

And the reason is so that nobody comes in to harm you.

Yes. To come in to try to rape me. That’s the only reason.

O.K. Has that ever happened?

Oh. Yes.

Where they just sneak in?

Yes. They try to sneak in. And I’m not fully asleep. And I jump up. Yes. You have to protect yourself. You have to. You have to. Outside, a lot of Deaf people – they’re in the room by their selves and they’re scared. Other people do that. They sneak in. How? How do they yell out? I can talk – because I was born hearing. It’s different for me. But other Deaf people? They can’t say anything. Nothing.

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