By Pat Bliss
[This article has been edited to remove the specific names of the researcher and her institution, by request of the original copyright holder - Ed.]
Fist, let me tell you that the clemency action is in motion and the interview article I mentioned in my last update, is on hold due to other commitments at the newspaper.
Something new happened for Felix when he met a researcher on deaf communication in prisons who came to interview him last Tuesday, June 11, 2013. The researcher contacted me that she would like to do an interview. I led her to the proper authorities, she made the arrangements and the interview took place at Tomoka Correctional Institution.
But it was much more than your usual interview. You see, she is deaf and her language is ASL. Have you ever met someone new and wanted to just sit down and talk to get acquainted? You exchanged personal stories, your likes and dislikes, dreams and ambitions. You could carry on a conversation because you spoke the same language, you understood each other. This happened for the first time EVER in Felix’s life – that is, sitting down and having a normal conversation which he could be a part of and understand all what was said.
How is this so? While living in the free world, Felix was going deaf due to a untreated ear infection from the age of 3. When he was of age to have friends to hang around with, his hearing was cloudy as the disease was eating away his ear drum, puss leaking and suffering from migraine headaches and throwing up. He was not a kid who people would gravitate to. But he could not enjoy any communication anyway since he couldn’t understand what was said in an entire sentence, didn’t comprehend what the meanings were of words since he did not hear the teachers teaching - especially in high school English and Composition. Felix didn’t know what was happening but he felt he was not normal, he was different. A horrible event happened where Felix was arrested for a crime he didn’t commit but it was in prison he found out he was Deaf, and fellow inmates taught him how to Sign, to talk and pronounce words. That was the beginning of being able to interact with people – with full understanding.
The researcher comes in to interview. They are taken to a small room inside the visiting park area. At first he is prepared for an interview with pad and pen but she tells him to put it away, this is different. She opens with telling him something about herself in Sign. He signed back something about himself. This two way conversation continued for about 3 hours. Felix was ecstastic. He never had an interview like this before, where he got to exchange ideas and convey his own thoughts - his way, in Sign. Felix called me and said “Mom, she is just like me!” [Felix refers to Ms. Bliss as "Mom." - Ed.] He realized there are Deaf out on the streets whom he can communicate with, as any normal human being. It was truly a eye opening moment for Felix. He has new hope of surviving when he gets his freedom. She is excited to have met such an exceptional deaf prisoner. She told me Felix is so different from the others, that he gripped her heart with his honesty and openness. We ended our Video Relay call with her words “I can’t walk away”. I said “I know, that is the reaction from everyone who meets him.”
[Editor's Note: We are still desperate for signatures on Felix's Pardon Petition. I have included the link on 2 of the 3 above graphics, but here it is as well, unformatted so it can be pasted into your address bar if necessary.
Please consider signing this important petition. We still need about 600 signatures before we can send it off to the Florida authorities, and we want very much for that to coincide with his Clemency Hearing. Thank you in advance - BitcoDavid]
Pat Bliss is a retired paralegal in criminal law. She continues to do legal work for indigent prisoner cases showing innocence. She is a Certified Community Chaplain, Certified as a volunteer for CISM (Crises Intervention Stress Management) and involved in community events.
Filed under: Felix Garcia Case | Tagged: #JusticeForFelix, American Sign Language, BitcoDavid, Deaf Studies, DeafInPrison.com, Education, Felix Garcia Case, Hearing impairment, Pat Bliss, Prison | 18 Comments »