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.

Celebrating McCay Vernon and Visiting Felix

By Pat Bliss

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

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

It was a quick weekend for me but I felt a need to attend the celebration of the life of Dr. McCay Vernon on September 22nd and I was glad I did. It was well attended with many, many of his former students who are themselves, college professors. For the first time, I felt like the minority in that I do not sign and most everyone else did. There were those who were deaf who signed and those who were hearing who signed. Mac was a sensational human being, according to the people who knew him best and for a very long time. He was always encouraging them to greater achievements. He was always there to help if needed. He was called a rock star in his field of expertise.  An old school friend of his told me Mac loved sports, especially basketball. In his retirement years – it became a common thread in speeches given – that one of Mac’s most favorite pastimes was breakfast, and lots of them. Everyone who spoke mentioned going out for breakfast, on a regular basis. I was beginning to think each one thought they were the only ones. What a surprise!

Mac’s wife Marie asked me to be a speaker on Felix’s case as it was close to Mac’s heart. I could not compare to those who spoke so lovingly and wisely about Dr. Vernon but I was able to share how Mac got involved with Felix’s case and how passionate he was in helping us. In the process, he led me to Washington Correspondent James Ridgeway to do an article for Mother Jones on Felix’s case. This started the publicity that Felix’s case needed. Mac put me in touch with author Joanne Greenberg about writing a book, which led to my writing Felix’s case story on DeafInPrison.com. He sent me literature he wrote on the deaf in the criminal justice system whenever I had a problem I needed some direction on. He was always there. I’ll miss that.

I spent Saturday with Felix. We had a great visit and he wants everyone to know how much he appreciates the cards, letters and prayers. Again, I learned something new about Felix. This time he showed me how he learns. He drew me a triangle. One side said, “see.” The second side said, “endure” and the third side said “do it”.  And he explained it this way: he sees the subject, he studies it to the point of absorbing what it says (endures) and then does what it says. This may seem elementary but remember Felix said in a earlier post “we are picture people?” He learns by drawing and writing it out so he can see it.  Just before leaving, referencing Mac’s passing, Felix said, “If it wasn’t for Dr. Vernon, we would not have what we have today.” It is evident, we all could agree with that statement.

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.

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.

Felix’s Petition for All to See

By BitcoDavid

It occurs to me, that you might want to see the actual petition letter that we will be sending to the Florida officials asking for a pardon for Felix. I added links, for this post, and they will not be included in the official document. The original document was drafted by Heather Hardy and Jason Anthony, and provided to DeafInPrison.com by 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,

[All of you - Felix's friends and supporters in this worthy effort]

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. 

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.

Not Really a Digest Post – Sort of an Apetiser

By BitcoDavid

"A-S-L" signed with American Sign La...

“A-S-L” signed with American Sign Language, combined Image:Sign language A.svg, Image:Sign language S.svg and Image:Sign language L.svg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First off, last night’s ASL meetup went well, except that Marsha Graham was not in attendance. Marsha suffered a bad fall yesterday in the early part of the day, and broke her shoulder. She’s currently in the hospital, and the road to recovery looks long and difficult. In order to respect her privacy, I won’t mention the name of the hospital, but you can send your well-wishes and good thoughts here, to DeafInPrison.com, and I will be sure she sees them. Simply comment below, and I’ll forward any messages to her. Marsha has been a tireless advocate for both the Deaf and HoH communities, and the wrongfully convicted prison population. She has been a wonderful asset to DeafInPrison.com and has been invaluable to me in my effort to learn Sign.  Let’s show her that we appreciate all she’s done.

One individual at the meetup however, was someone whom I hadn’t yet met. His name is Paul. He asked me if I was an engineer. I stumbled through signing back, “How did you know?” He said, “I read your blog.” It was awesome! Imagine that! somebody reads my blog!

Moorbey has honored DeafInPrison.com with an award nomination. We are the proud recipients of the Versatile Blogger AwardThank you Moorbey for the respect. It is mutual.

versatile

The Versatile Blogger award – Thank you Moorbey’z Blog. There are many great sites throughout the Blogosphere – tireless workers struggling to bring you the truth. Moorbey’z Blog is one of the best.

The Rules:  Thank and link back to the person who awarded you. Nominate 15 bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award and include a link to their site. Drop 7 pieces of info about yourself.

So, Here’s mine.

  1. I’m an auditory learner. When given information orally, I have an almost eidetic memory. Reading is my second strongest learning method, but I can usually repeat information I have learned aurally, word for word. It makes Sign very difficult for me, because although much of the information is imparted aurally, the bulk of what you learn, is obviously visual.

I tend to look at the world in X-Ray. It’s hard to explain, but when most people look at something like a car, they see 4 wheels and a box. When I look at a car, I see gears, pistons and pulleys. It’s true with everything. You see a vacuum cleaner, I see a motor, an impeller and pipes.

June supervises the boys and their friends, To...

June supervises the boys and their friends, Tooey and Eddie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was a Leftist before it was cool. All the stuff that people think is new – like Feminism, racial and class equality, Environmentalism and animal rights – have been my fight for decades. Sometimes, it’s disheartening because it seems like we’ve made so little progress, and it’s taken so long. Other times, though – I can see how far we’ve come, and I feel good about it. For example, I can remember when it was actually surprising to see a Black doctor or a Female lawyer. I can remember when all women were June Cleaver, and all Blacks were Fred Sanford. We have made some progress.

I hate the word consumer. I far prefer the word Citizen. Where the former is castrating and countermining, the later is empowering. If you must use a word in reference to commerce, use the word customer. The customer is an essential element in the transaction of business. The consumer is simply a sheep. Cattle for the slaughter.

English: Ian Anderson and Martin Barre, Jethro...

Ian Anderson and Martin Barre, Jethro Tull in concert, Chicago 1973. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s the thing about being old. I’ve seen Jethro Tull, the Airplane, the Dead, Yes and the Who. I saw Genesis with Peter Gabriel, in New York at the Beacon Theater. I saw ELP when Keith Emerson did his flying Piano bit. I saw Elton John right after he got back from the former Soviet Union. My only regret is that I wasn’t at Woodstock. My parents wouldn’t let me go. OK, so kids nowadays have iPads and Wiis. But, if you haven’t seen Pink Floyd – the real Pink Floyd – you haven’t seen anything.

Everybody complains about being married, but I like it. I wouldn’t trade one minute of the life I’ve shared with my wife, for anything. She’s a wonderful woman and I love her.

When I was about 5 years old, my dad took me to see How the West was Won, in Cooper Cinerama. From that point on, I’ve had an ongoing love affair with cinema. I love movies. Even the bad ones. I just love movies.

15 Nominees:

Life in Color with Closed Captions (http://withclosedcaptions.wordpress.com/)

Lockup Reform (http://lockupreform.com/)

End Solitary (http://stopsolitary.wordpress.com/)

A Public Defender (http://apublicdefender.com/) – A lawyer that can write? Yup.

BitcoDavid’s BoxingBlog (http://bitcodavidsboxingblog.com/) – Sorry, shameless self promotion.

C’mon People or Sheeple? (http://menantum.com/)

Carpenter’s Cabin (http://lascrucescarpenter.wordpress.com/) – Misbehaved Woman’s hubby.

Donnatella’s Space (http://lady6x.wordpress.com/)

Undergrad Woman (http://pinkystanseski.com/) – Still waiting for a piece, Pinky.

Thought Snax (http://thoughtsnax.com/) – A bit different, but generally a fun read.

Just Cruisin’ 2 (http://cruisin2.wordpress.com/) – Cars, Dogs and some other stuff.

Femineach (http://feimineach.com/)

Any of Glenn Langohr’s sites (http://audiobookprisonstories.com/) – Glenn is an amazing asset, and an awesome writer. His story is one you need to learn about. While the rest of us were talking about prison life, Glenn was living it.

Solitary Watch (http://solitarywatch.com/) – James Ridgeway is the Granddaddy of this whole movement. He’s been writing about prison reform and solitary confinement since most of us were still in Garanimals.

Lipreading Mom (http://lipreadingmom.com/) – Be sure to check out the upcoming Stop Hearing Loss Bullying video from Lipreading Mom. BitcoDavid is editing it, as you’re reading this.

English: Medication used for obesity. Orlistat...

Medication used for obesity. Orlistat and sibutramine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lastly, there’s this. Suppose you wanted to lose those love handles, and diet and exercise just weren’t working fast enough. So, you decide to try something like Xenedrine, or any of a dozen different OTC weight loss aids. Now, suppose you’re on parole. Did you know that products like that can make you test positive for amphetamines? It’s true, and you could end up violated, all because you wanted to shed a couple of pounds. The jails are chock full of guys who ate poppy seed bagels, or took a decongestant, or ate some Xenedrine.

Yet the companies that market these faulty tests continue to push them on the public, and authorities such as P.O.s and even bosses, continue to believe in their accuracy – at the cost of your freedom and livelihood. Know this. You always  have the right to demand a blood test, administered by a medical professional.  Breathalyzers and piss tests are horribly inaccurate,  and all the more so when administered by inexperienced law officers and employers. Do yourself a favor. Say I want my doctor to give me a blood test.

Well, don’t forget to drop a line for poor Marsha, and Peace. Out.

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.

Live Coverage of Bridgewater Event

By BitcoDavid

Keynote (presentation software)

Keynote (presentation software) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is an initial post. Video and in-depth coverage to follow. But, I wanted to get a chance to just give you a quick update – from the field. By eye, it looks to be a crowd of about 100 – 150 people. there are a few hearies, of which I think I’m the only non-signer. Most of the participants appear to be ASL only, speakers.

I sat and enjoyed my lunch, in complete silence, watching hands moving all around me. One rarely gets to experience being in the minority – even to the point of novelty – and the experience isn’t lost on me.

The program is being led by Dr. Aviva Twersky Glasner, who spoke first. Marsh Graham spoke, and mentioned in detail, both Felix, and the Lashonn White case, which we’ve also covered. She is the Deaf woman who was tased by police, and ended up spending 4 days in jail with no interpreter.HEARD and Solitary Watch

have also been mentioned.The Brookline MA police department sent out their team dedicated to working with special populations. All things being equal, Brookline police is doing a superior job of trying to advance the state of policing in regards to all special needs scenarios.

The Keynote, Dr. Brendan Monteiro, began his program, and will finish after lunch. DeafInPrison.com readers will be apprised of the contents of all these presentations, over the next day or so.

I’m hoping to get one more of these field posts up before I leave.

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.

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

Stunning PowerPoint by Solitary Watch – Solitary 101

By BitcoDavid

PowerPoint presentation by Jean Casella and James Ridgeway of Solitary Watch.

This is a truly massive work, and well worth taking a few minutes to watch in its entirety. Well written, informative and beautifully enhanced with photos and graphics, this presentation is a must see.

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. 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 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.

 

Five Years in Solitary – For a Cell Phone – by HumansInShadow

I got this from HumansInShadow.com.  They got it from Jim Ridgeway’s site, SolitaryWatch.com. It appears that Phillip Miller was a model prisoner, having served the first half of a twenty year sentence. A guard smuggled a cell phone in, and Miller ended up getting an additional 5 years in solitary.

Miller was brought before an internal prison disciplinary hearing and pled guilty to the two charges. But he sought to call various inmates who could attest to his good behavior and to describe what actually had happened. The hearing officer denied him  his request, claiming that he, the prison officer, knew all about Miller and it wasn’t necessary to call the witnesses. Miller was found guilty of both charges and sentenced to 60 months—five years—in solitary, with a proviso that 24 months might be suspended if he incurred no further disciplinary charges. Despite the nonviolent nature of his offenses, Miller was shipped off to serve his time at Southport, the all-solitary supermax facility south of Elmira.

The article goes on to state that New York leads the nation in disciplinary use of solitary confinement and segregration.

Long stretches in the so-called Special Housing Unit (“the SHU” or, more commonly, ”the box”) is an everyday punishment in New York State prisons. Currently, about  4,500 inmates are serving time in some form of 23-hour-a-day lockdown, with sentences ranging from months to decades. As we wrote in an earlier article, New York leads the nation in the use of “disciplinary segregation,” and isolation “is very much a punishment of first resort, doled out for minor rule violations as well as major offenses. In New York, the most common reason for a stint in solitary is creating a ‘disturbance’ or ‘demonstration.’…Second is ‘dirty urine’—testing positive for drugs of any kind…Other infractions include refusing to obey orders, ‘interfering with employees,’ being ‘out of place’ and possession of contraband—not only a shiv but a joint, a cellphone or too many postage stamps.”

English: The Solitary Confinement cell of the ...

The Solitary Confinement cell of the Gladstone Gaol, Gladstone, South Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, ask yourself what happened to the C.O. who brought the cell phone in, in the first place.

The corrections officer in question was 12-year veteran Leon Strand. According to information provided upon request by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision’s Office of Public Information, Strand was ”arrested on felony dangerous contraband charges by the New York State Police on May 21, 2010.” The following day, Strand was suspended without pay, and he “resigned from his Correction Officer position while facing DOCCS disciplinary charges.” The Public Information Office also reported that “on November 23, 2010, Strand pleaded guilty to Promoting Prison Contraband,” but was not aware what sentence he had received. Records show that Strand never served any time in the New York State prison system, and as far as we can ascertain, never did any jail time, either.

Known as "klondike" or "the hol...

Known as “klondike” or “the hole”, this subterranean holding cell was the most severe form of solitary confinement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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.

The One Lovely Blog Award

August 1, 2012

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

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

There are five guidelines for accepting this award:

Link back to the blogger who nominated you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————-

The next part of the award is nominating other bloggers:

1. Improving Police

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

2. Nanoy Manga

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

3. Lipreading Mom

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

4. MadMike’s America

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

5. Law Office of Marsha Graham

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

6. Another Boomer Blog

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

7. Ricky’s Medical Blog

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

8. Prisonmovement’s Weblog

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

9. Terpshands

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

10. CrimeDime

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

11. iPhonePhotoBlogging

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

12. Ellexa Press LLC

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

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

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

14. Blog Catalog

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

15. Solitary Watch

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

Felix in His Own Words Part 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

Out of Prison, Trailing Demons – From BendBulletin.com

This picture moved me, so I used it in a previous post (properly cited and linked – of course). I recently had reason to go back to the original article in which it was published, and decided it rated a reblog here, on DeafInPrison.com. So, for your enjoyment and edification…

http://www.bendbulletin.com/article/20080519/NEWS0107/805190324/

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