Inmate Letter Dated March 15th, 2012

Sadly, the original letter was barely legible. After a struggle, I managed to translate it – roughly – for you here. I tried to maintain the inmate’s voice, while working to make sense of it.

–Pat.

 

Hello to the peoples.

Thanks for your support of the deaf people who have suffered in prison for 20 up to 25 years in prison. Now, I have fought with this life in prison. Life is sorrowful with other inmates tricking me as inmates wrote a request form to put me in the hole (confinement) while I was not knowing how they tricked me locked me up for nothing.

Because the deaf person want to stay out of trouble or the deaf person can be beat [for] using sign language to communicate. Some other inmates don’t understand what deaf people talk about. Deaf people refuse to cooperate with troublemaker for making money from someone’s eles’s cell property. Then the hearing people took the request form to and wrote my room number on it. The Sergeant officer ordered deaf person to be handcuffed without knowing what happened just that you got to see the Captain in his office. Deaf person could not reach anyone to get an interpreter.

This the life of a deaf person… They are violating our civil rights… I have a problem, that I cannot find a way to write medical to explain I need surgery on my right elbow. Medical paperwork is hard to understand, the vocabulary deaf person cannot understand. It is hard to explain the problem to the doctor. It is tough to explain the power the doctor has.

The doctor knows that deaf person cannot write right and says “Aha!, Well inmate you gonna be alright or I can cut off your arm. It will be good.” So the deaf person say “Arghh, that can’t be, to cut off the arm!” Then deaf person gives up and that is how deaf person has been frustrated all these years. That is not fair for these hearing people com out with beautiful braces on their knee and already had surgery. The deaf people may never have good legs and arms. That is not fair. Also, I cannot afford to pay another person to explain to the doctor, it is hard to tell doctor the right answers. Only God know everything.

I am a little hearing impaired. I understand 10% when I hear a loud one I can hear words sometimes. I have been in prison for 22 years. I will have to go back to court real soon. I never went to the courtroom or communicated with the policeman in the situation.

Also, now I am in AA meetings. There is no interpreter, I will be filing a grievance soon. The medical staff has refused to give me ID card as Deaf and Hearing Impaired. They did give them where I came from.

Anyway, hope you enjoy reading my journey on these pages. Thank you.

Waiting for Trial

For an updated version of this post, please go to

http://deafinprison.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/awaiting-trial-3/

 

Deaf Prisoners – When Deaf People Are in Prison

Image courtesy of Catboxx (http://catboxx.blogspot.com/2010/05/parchman-farm.html). One of my favorite images of the old Parchman Farm chain gang.

The other day, I posted the DOJ report on prison populations as of Mid-year 2011. I did so, in an effort to respond to a question I was asked by a reader. Quite simply, how many Deaf inmates are there, in American prisons. In numerous searches, including having read the above report, I have not yet been able to find a reliable answer to that question.

One answer bothered me, however. On Yahoo answers, one respondent claimed that Deaf inmates are not sent to conventional prisons, but rather to special halfway houses or dorm facilities. Needless to say, anyone who reads DeafInPrison.com knows this is – sadly – just not true.

This is an article I found on About.com.

Deaf Prisoners – When Deaf People Are in Prison.

Injustice: Mistreatment of the Deaf in Prison

Talila Lewis from H.E.A.R.D. sent us this link. The post was actually written by a young intern.

Injustice: Mistreatment of the Deaf in Prison.

Deaf Illinois inmates sue for access to interpreters – Peoria, IL – pjstar.com

Image

Deaf Illinois inmates sue for access to interpreters – Peoria, IL – pjstar.com.

I’m looking for an update to this story. Will keep you posted.

Book Review of Katrina Miller’s (2005) book: Deaf Culture Behind Bars: Signs and Stories of a Texas Population. Published by AGO Publications

Unfortunately, this book is out of print but perhaps is available through a library.  After I visited a county jail and a state prison and met with two deaf inmates, I reread Dr. Katrina Miller’s book and found it most relevant and informative so I am submitting a book review for deafinprison readers.

Katrina R. Miller.  (2003) Deaf Culture Behind Bars: Signs and Stories of a Texas Population.  Salem, OR: AGO Publications.  https://www.agostore.com

The jail and prison environment is an isolating and cruel existence for the culturally Deaf as well as hard of hearing inmates because of lack of access to communication, services and programming with correctional officers and fellow inmates. Dr. Katrina Miller’s pages spill out compelling life stories of Deaf inmates who find themselves behind bars and without services that are typically given to hearing inmates.  Written for sign language interpreters, social workers, police, correctional officers and the Deaf Community, Dr. Miller’s book will be informative to attorneys working on cases involving Deaf clients who are in jail or prison. Dr. Miller’s book is based on her doctoral dissertation published in 2001 where she described the background and crimes of 99 deaf inmates in the Estelle Unit in Huntsville State Prison in Huntsville Texas. (Forensic Issues of Deaf Offenders, Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas). Much of the book includes many interviews Dr. Miller conducted with the Deaf inmates. Dr. Miller provides statistics on the kinds of crimes Deaf inmates committed as well as information on services they need and barriers they face in the prison environment.  There is also a section on deaf signs used in prison that are linguistically different than signs used outside the prison walls. The book presents many interviews of deaf inmates and the reader can learn from the inmates “first-hand” how it feels to be Deaf and in prison—all of which riveted this reader to the page.

The Secret World of Deaf Prisoners | Mother Jones

Here’s another article from Mother Jones, by James Ridgeway.

 

The Secret World of Deaf Prisoners | Mother Jones.

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