Current Media Coverage on Felix

By Pat Bliss

Since we have enlisted the aid of Sachs Media Group in the Felix Garcia case, we have seen a large increase in media coverage. Below is a partial list of some of the newspapers and media outlets who have covered the case. We are thrilled at the attention Felix is finally getting in the press. Thank you Sachs Media, but we also don’t want to forget the commitment and help Felix has gotten from DeafInPrison.com, Mother Jones, and the many people who gave us support. This is a team effort, and I’m reminded of that expression, it takes a village. Thank you all for your hard work on Felix’s behalf.

Sachs Media Group

Reggie Garcia speaks to the crowd at #JusticeForFelix Rally. Image: Sachs Media Group

WJXT Jacksonville

Hearing-impaired seek justice for Florida man

March 25, 2014

By Matt Galka, Reporter

A deaf Florida man has spent more than 30 years of his life behind bars for a crime his brother has since confessed to. Hundreds of Floridians who are hearing-impaired are making noise to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Felix Garcia was convicted of murdering a man in Tampa in 1983. Garcia is deaf and the court had no interpreter to help him understand his trial. He has spent every day since behind bars — even after his brother admitted to the murder.

Click here to read the rest of the article:

http://www.news4jax.com/news/hearingimpaired-seek-justice-for-florida-man/25160288

Also featured on WFLA—Matt Galka, Reporter

Click here to watch his video segment:

http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=01d5eb53-2a06-4c1f-b462-ec1387c4dac2

Capital News Service

Hearing Impaired Seek Justice

March 25, 2014

By Matt Galka, Reporter

Felix Garcia was convicted of murdering a man in Tampa in 1983.  Felix is deaf and the court had no interpreter to help him understand his trial. He has spent every day since behind bars – even after his brother has admitted to the murder.

“He went into court, he didn’t know what was going on, he signed things he didn’t know he was signing and the result was he was incarcerated and he’s still in jail,” said Lissette Molina Wood through an interpreter. Wood is the Florida Association of the Deaf President.

http://www.flanews.com/?p=21116

WJXT-JAX – Jacksonville, FL

March 25, 2014

Matt Galka, Reporter

Click here to watch this video segment:

http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=a07e28cb-ddb2-4463-a3fa-2976a506c2ff

WCJB (ABC) – Gainesville, FL

WCJB TV News 20

March 25, 2014

Matt Galka, Reporter

Click here to watch this video segment:

http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=2025886c-0d14-4a62-89f3-90fc4e71fdb2

WCJB (ABC) – Gainesville, FL

WCJB TV News 20

March 25, 2014

Matt Galka, Reporter

Click here to watch this video segment:

http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=00840338-5760-4c6a-9609-1f60567e7f5b

The Florida Channel

Capital Update

March 25, 2014

*Our story is featured at the end of the Capital Update

Click here to watch this video segment:

http://thefloridachannel.org/watch/channel/tvweb1/

The Tampa Tribune

Deaf Tampa convict seeks clemency in murder

March 25, 2014

By James Rosica

 

Felix Garcia is in prison for murder, his defenders say, in part because he did not want his hearing impairment to be mistaken for stupidity. Garcia, 52, is serving a life sentence for a August 1981 killing in a north Tampa motel room, the result of a drug robbery gone bad.

Now, he’s asking Gov. Rick Scott to set him free.

Click here to read the rest of the article:

http://tbo.com/news/politics/deaf-tampa-convict-seeks-clemency-in-murder-20140325/

WUFT (NBC) – Gainesville, FL

March 25,2014

By Tavis Smiley

Click here to watch video segment:

http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=7083ea02-6b33-49aa-8f54-06d6ada4b1d4

Ad Hoc News

Deaf Tampa convict seeks clemency in murder

March 25, 2014

By James Rosica

Felix Garcia is in prison for murder, his defenders say, in part because he did not want his hearing impairment to be mistaken for stupidity.

Garcia, 52, is serving a life sentence for a August 1981 killing in a north Tampa motel room, the result of a drug robbery gone bad.Now, he’s asking Gov. Rick Scott to set him free.His brother, also charged in the robbery, later framed Garcia by getting him to pawn a ring stolen from the dead man, Joseph Tramontana Jr.

Click here to see the rest of the article:

http://article.wn.com/view/2014/03/25/Deaf_Tampa_convict_seeks_clemency_in_murder/

WFLA-TB (NBC) – Tampa Bay, FL

News Ch8 Today

March 26, 2014

Clip shown at 4:30/ 5:30 a.m.

Click here to watch this video segment:

http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=50f4c42b-7e98-4a8e-98d3-1b3bdfd4ede3

If you haven’t yet signed the Sachs Media petition, we need your signature. Conversely, DeafInPrison.com’s petition which is the longest lived petition in the case is still open, but if you sign it, we’re asking that you please take the time to sign the Sachs Media petition as well. Thank you for understanding why this is so important.

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

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Your Thoughts on the Felix Garcia Case

By BitcoDavid

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

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

Although we have entered into an arrangement with Sachs Media to bring their considerable skills to bear on Felix Garcia’s pending clemency, we are still getting signatures on our petition as well. I’m fine with that, but I hope people are also signing their petition – which goes directly into the inboxes of the officials who have influence on the case.

In the meantime, as I have perused the, now, 765 signatures, several of your comments have struck me. I have collected a few here, for you all to see. These comments are your words, not mine. In other words, this is how the Public feels about Felix.

My boyfriend has done time with him and was a translator for him while at polk ci. He had discussed this with him in detail and was very surprise to heat that it finally made he courts. After listen to him and then reading up on Felix I felt that I should support him. Must be bad to be in there for being guilty but being innocent that must must be really bad.

***

I am a certified sign language interpreter with 25 years of experience. I also have Deaf parents and a Deaf sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. I take this case very personally because it could have been one of my family members being unjustly jailed. This is a complete failure of our justice system that should have been so blatantly obvious at the time, but somehow it wasn’t. Mr. Garcia should be freed immediately based upon this new evidence and more importantly, due to the lack of him being afforded the opportunity and ability to defend himself against these false charges. I stand with all those who support that persons who are Deaf or hard of hearing should never be tried without the clear ability to communicate and defend themselves against any and all claims made against them. To do otherwise is complete madness and unconstitutional.

***

This would be heartbreaking if it was merely a case of one man being framed for murder by his own brother and wasting more than thirty years in a prison cell. It is infuriating once you understand that Frank Garcia openly confessed to framing his brother Felix in writing and in court, and yet Felix is STILL in prison seven years later. But what makes it truly, egregiously, outrageously horrific, is that Felix is functionally Deaf, and like other such men and women in prison, his Deafness has been denied – when not outright exploited – by our glorious justice system from the day he was arrested. He has been denied interpreters and even batteries for his hearing aids, laughed at when attempting to communicate, frightened into a desperate suicide attempt by guards, and raped. This. Is. Not. Acceptable.
***
Keep up the outstanding work, Pat Bliss and team!
***
As a former law enforcement agent, I feel sad and guilty for the unjustified incarceration of Felix Garcia. Please, do not let this tragedy continue, release this poor soul who was betrayed by his own brother.
***
New evidence requires a review of this case; and not giving a Deaf man access to his own hearing aids is Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

This is just a sample of the many comments I have received on the petition, but they convey the emotions and thinking of the general public as they become increasingly aware of Felix’s plight. Please take a moment to sign the Sachs Media petition here, and Like their FaceBook page, here. Even if you have already signed our petition. I know that’s a lot to ask, and I apologize for it, but this way, you can be assured that your voice will be heard.

At the same time, I’d like to thank everybody who has already signed ours, and to let you know that our petition is still active, and still holds the record for longest lived petition since this case was first made public. We had the record for the most signatures, and although we have gained a significant number since Sachs Media’s petition was launched, I honestly hope we no longer have that honor. When our 765 signatures become the second runner-up, that means that so many more will have already been brought to Florida’s attention.
You can tweet about Felix using the hashtags, #JusticeForFelix or #FreeFelix.

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

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Wind in My Sails

By BitcoDavid

Grant Executive Clemency to Felix Garcia

Where Felix Garcia is concerned, the go-to is and has always been Pat Bliss. Ms. Bliss has put forth a herculean 17 year effort to free Felix. As a result, he calls her “Mom.” The most recent turn of events in the case, is the ongoing Clemency hearing in which Pat is being assisted in this struggle by Reggie Garcia – Felix’s pro bono attorney.

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

These two individuals have enlisted the aid of Sachs Media Group, Florida’s #1 Public Relations firm. DeafInPrison.com has opted to be of aid where ever possible to Sachs Media. They have a lot of boots on the ground, where we do not. One area where we can assist them, as they take on this final leg of a struggle we have been solely involved in for almost 2 years now, is the transfer of signatures from our petition to theirs.

I have done this, but unfortunately, Change.org will not accept signatures from a Care2 petition. It’s simply a tech issue, having to do with login requirements. It is due to this situation, that I am asking the following.

If you are one of the 745 individuals who were gracious enough to sign our petition, could you please see your way clear to sign theirs as well? I fully realize that this seems like a bothersome request. You would be well justified in thinking that since you’ve signed one petition, you shouldn’t be asked to re-sign yet another.

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

But here’s the thing. Their petition is directly linked to the e-mails of all the individuals in Florida who we were targeting. The difference being, these people will receive these signatures right away – in their inboxes, not in the U.S. mail. Rather than being an envelope they can simply stick in a desk drawer somewhere, these signatures will be right in their faces – right away. I can’t stress how important that will be.

Some have asked me what happened – did the wind get knocked out of my sails? The answer is a most definite no. The wind is most assuredly still in my sails, but now I’ve got an armada rather than just one little boat. With our help – all of us – Sachs Media can finally free Felix.

Please visit their Petition page, here. Sign the petition – even if you’ve already signed mine. Like their FaceBook page, here. I will be posting on that page regularly. We’re not selling out, we’re trading up. After 32 years, Felix needs to be freed. It’s a moral issue, a legal issue and a justice issue. Every day that Felix spends in prison is another day we all suffer, another day the whole world suffers.

Here’s the unformatted link to the Sachs Media petition:
https://www.change.org/petitions/rick-scott-grant-executive-clemency-to-felix-garcia

Here’s the unformatted FaceBook link:https://www.facebook.com/championsforjusticeforfelixgarcia

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

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Major Update on Felix’s Case

By BitcoDavid

As most of you know, DeafInPrison.com has been working tirelessly, on the release of Felix Garcia, the innocent Deaf man, imprisoned for 30 years thus far, in Florida. We have written countless pieces on his situation, been in constant contact with Pat Bliss, the paralegal who has been working on this case for over a decade, now, and we created the longest lived and most active petition thus far, seeking his pardon.

Well, Pat Bliss and Reggie Garcia – the pro bono attorney who’s handling the clemency hearing – have enlisted the aid of Sachs Media Group in an effort to inform both the public, and the requisite Florida legislators, about this urgent case.

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

Sachs Media is in the process of launching a FaceBook page, and of starting their own petition on Change.org. DeafInPrison.com will be transferring our 740+ signatures over to Sachs Media’s petition – which is directly linked to the e-mail addresses of the same individuals we were targeting. That way, those individuals will receive signatures immediately, rather than our waiting until we reach the 1000 mark. Sachs Media will also be coordinating this activity with a press release – something we’ve tried on numerous occasions.

I will be posting those links as soon as they become available to me.

This is a major step forward in Felix’s case. Sachs Media has a large war chest of contacts and resources they will be able to bring to bear, and those of us who have worked to see Felix freed, may finally get the resolution we’ve been working so hard – and waiting so long – for.

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

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

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the individuals who have signed our petition, and who have worked through social media as well as contributing or commenting here, on DeafInPrison.com. Your signatures will now be added to a much larger pool, and transferred directly to Pam Bondi, Governor Scott and all the members of the Florida Cabinet who have sway with the Clemency Board. When Felix is released, you will be able to say that you were directly responsible for helping to make that dream a reality.

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

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Dogs Serving Time in Prison – Temporarily

By Pat Bliss

English: Golden retriever puppy, three months ...

Golden retriever puppy, three months old. (Daisy Parker) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is not a normal posting about deaf prisoners, but my friend BitcoDavid is an avid dog lover so I have combined the two. These dogs inside prisons are trained to be service dogs for wheelchair people, autistic children, PTSD vets and facility dogs for hospitals and nursing homes. They come from New Horizons Service Dogs Inc. in Orlando, FL. I keep in touch with a Florida prisoner who trains these service dogs and Jeff has some very interesting insight that I would like to share.

I think the best way to tell you about how a dog and prisoner interact in a prison cell, is to just relate what Jeff said in his letters. He began this program in early 2012. I had told him – when he was telling me about it – that I am sure dozens of prisoners are going to want to do it. His answer was, “believe it or not, very few are interested. They like dogs, like to play, feed, and pet them but don’t love them enough, where they want to live with them, clean up  behind them or groom them.”  Jeff said it is a full time job, from 5:30 AM until 10:30 AM, seven days a week and he said very few prisoners are dedicated to it.

Jeff loves dogs, always had them before prison, so this is something he loves. The first dog he was given was a 9-week-old purebred black lab puppy.  Jeff relates:

“This dog of mine is a shadow even to wanting to get in the shower with me and gives me dirty looks when I make him sit or lay outside until I am done. I’m up 3-5 times a night with him to do his duty.  My dog has learned a few commands so far, but he thinks it’s a game and wants to play all the time. When I stop the playing he must learn it is a partnership between me and him and I am boss! But he is so clumsy and comical. At the same time we got a couple other dogs that were abused and under nourished so we got them ready to go back out. It’s sad how anyone could abuse such a lovable and dedicated dogs as these.”

Jeff was telling me that the owners were coming to see how the dogs perform. As Jeff stated:

“I was very embarrassed, as all [dog's name] did was cry the whole time and when it came to us for a demonstration he did nothing! Whether it was stage fright and a room full of strange people and dogs, who knows. I took him down to the VP [visiting park] two days later and he preformed like a champion for the sergeant over the dog program. My dog was taken out 3 weeks ago for socialization so I don’t know if I’ll see him again. We clicked good together. The first set of dogs were with the guys from puppies for 18 months. Now they rotate the dogs every 4 months, so once you bond to a dog, he or she is gone!”

English: Golden Retriever dog (canis lupus fam...

Golden Retriever dog (canis lupus familiaris), resting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Next Jeff had a “female yellow lab for several months that was then taken to team training to try to get her placed with an autistic child. At team training the prospective people who are to get the dogs are with the dog and trainers to get used to them and obey the new prospective owners.” Jeff was told, “about 65% make it (dogs trained in prison) and the rest wash out of the program and go as partially trained pets to veterans or as comfort dogs to places who need them.”

The yellow lab is gone and now came a male Golden Retriever, 17 months old and 95 lbs. This is what Jeff said:

“Thank God he doesn’t pull on the leash! He’s a lover and live teddy bear. He’s been with a puppy raiser the whole time and they taught him next to nothing, so at his age now it will be interesting to see what he will learn. I don’t think he even got out to play as he didn’t even know what a ball was or how to play with other dogs. These last 10 days he’s having lots of fun playing with the other dogs here, chasing and retrieving balls, playing tug with me and other dogs. It has really changed his personality. I think all he did was eat and lay up in the AC before. His ears were so dirty you could plant a garden in them and lots of fur balls and knots all over him. However, this dog is a lot of fun but he is quite possessive. Can’t be out of his sight more than a minute or two or he starts to bark.”

That Golden Retriever has gone on to better things and now Jeff has another one.

“A beautiful, deep reddish blonde Golden Retriever, he is 18 months old – who makes me miss and appreciate my last dog. This dog is loving and beautiful but one pain in the butt. He was with a puppy raiser for 17 months, then spent 2 months at another prison, with its trainers 1 week, then on to me. This dog is super hyper[active], always pacing up, off and under the bed constantly and always into something. He seems to never run out of gas and sleep. I was on the phone the other day and came back and he ate a dirty sock and part of a cleaning sponge with Ajax and bleach on it. Needless to say he got a good cleaning out for about 3 1/2 days. He’s about 80 lbs and pulls on the leash like a freight train and lunges at birds constantly. My arms should be about 2 inches longer by now. He has already chewed through 4 leashes. When I open the kennel, he runs under the bed and I need to drag him out. And when you correct him, he just glares and leers at you and pays no attention, though he does do his basic commands. I can tell by his habits that whoever had him was gone all day as a bowl of food and water will last all day and he only picks at it but after 5:00 pm he eats and drinks like crazy. Also the way he jumps on the bed and wants to sleep when I’m not around tells me he did the same and was allowed to where he was those 17 months. He will definitely be a challenge and test of patience.”

Jeff H.

South FL Prison

[Editor's Note: For more on this, go here, here or here. -- 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.

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Song Tells Felix’s Suffering

By Pat Bliss

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


 

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

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Update on Felix – Part 2

By Pat Bliss

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

Image from Raiford Prison, cir. 1930  Northlight Theater Blog

Image from Raiford Prison, cir. 1930
Northlight Theater Blog

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

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

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

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

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

Pat Bliss

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

Event: HEARD Hosts Panel on Junius Wilson

By BitcoDavid

In Nowhere Man in a Nowhere Land, by Jean F. Andrews, we told the story of Junius Wilson. He was a Deaf, Black man living in the Jim Crow South. He spent 76 years in the State Hospital for the Colored Insane - wrongfully charged with rape.

On February 11th, HEARD and the Disability Law Society will host a lunchtime panel event featuring speakers familiar with Mr. Wilson and his story. Susan Birch, author of the book Unspeakable, and others will be speaking and answering discussion questions.

Location is the Washington College of Law – room 503, and the time is Noon on February 11th (a Tuesday).

I for one, wish I could be in attendance. It strikes me as a must see event.

Below is the HEARD invite as a PDF embed.

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

Suppose it were Mozart

By BitcoDavid

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

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

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

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

Felix with Pat Bliss.
Image credit Pat Bliss

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

"Jail" in Sign Image: LifePrint.com

“Jail” in Sign
Image: LifePrint.com

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

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

Well, it turns out my idea is impossible.

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

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

***

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

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

I Need Hope…..

By Pat Bliss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pat

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

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Resolutions

By BitcoDavid

As a full third of Americans hunker down and prepare for Armageddon Storm 2014, I thought I might talk about some of my New Years resolutions. Now, I’m not a big resolution guy. I find that people tend to hit the ground running, but lose steam after about a month or so, leaving the resolution to gather dust in the basement, next to the treadmill and the Ab Buster. Conversely, I think if developing a specific habit is desired, it can be started anytime, and there is no need to await a new year. That  being said, we constantly reinvent and reapply ourselves, and Jan 2 is as good a time as any, to again pick up the bit, dig in our heels and renew our commitments.

First and foremost of course, would be Felix. I have no control over the plethora of factors effecting Felix’s release, but I can renew my commitment to his cause. We have only 300 more signatures to go, before we can send Felix’s petition off to my 2 favorite Republicans, Pam Bondi and Rick Scott. At the same time, Pat Bliss and a Pro Bono attorney are working on a clemency hearing for Felix. In fact, Pat should be returning from Florida soon, and hopefully she’ll have some news for us. In the meantime, we at DeafInPrison.com can double down and continue writing about Felix and his case, and keep beating the drum for you – our readers – to sign his petition.

Then there’s ASL. I would like to be conversational by this time next year. In fact, assuming that Dr. Twersky Glasner has another symposium this year, I’d like to be able to enjoy my lunch while signing away like a pro. No more banishment to the Hearie Table – population 1. I can learn to sign one-handed, so I can eat veggie wraps with the other.

De Niro in Raging Bull. Image: Andy's Film Blog

De Niro in Raging Bull. Image: Andy’s Film Blog

Of course some resolutions are more personal. I want to get better at inside fighting, and keeping my guard up on attack. I stay in pocket well, when I’m on the defensive, but I tend to drop my guard when I move in for a combination. And this coming Summer, I’d like to run a few more races than I did last year. 3 short years from the staring window, and I’m a boxer and a runner. Not bad huh? I think I’m the oldest guy at my gym.

Anyway, we have our work cut out for us. Happy New Year, and I wish us all success in 2014. Let’s make this the year that was.

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

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My 12 Favorite Posts of 2013

By BitcoDavid

As the rock we call home hurtles around that angriest of planets at a mind boggling 67000 mph, I find myself feeling nostalgic. Here then, without further ado, is my list of the past 12 month’s highlights.

Image credit page not available

Image credit page not available

 

  1. First off, Moorbey’z Blog put us up for the Reality Blog AwardMoorbey has been a great collaborator and contributor to DeafInPrison.com, and I have nothing but admiration, respect and gratitude for all they do.
  2. Shanna Groves launched her #StopHearingLossBullying program, and I was honored to make the video. Since then, the program has been tagged in every one of our posts. Bullying of any kind leaves lifelong scars and limits people’s abilities. How many Mozarts, DaVincis or Einsteins are we destroying by bullying those who are a little different?
  3. In March, I attended the Symposium on the Deaf and the Justice SystemDuring lunch, everybody was signing to everybody else, and for perhaps the first time in my life, I had no one to talk to. It was on that day, that I decided to learn ASL.
  4. My 56th birthday celebration culminated in one of my best Digest Posts.
  5. Paul Smith has written 2 Supporter Contributions for us, and promises a 3rd. This one is on juvenile delinquency.
  6. For 11 years now, Pat Bliss has been working on obtaining release for the innocent Deaf man, Felix Garcia. Nobody knows the case better, and Felix calls Ms. Bliss Mom. In June, we published the 2nd embed detailing Felix’s case. The final embeds will be forthcoming. Any questions one might have regarding this tragic story, can be answered within these embedded PDFs.
  7. July saw the launch of our FaceBook group, ASL Learners by DeafInPrison.com.
  8. No one can know more about prison life than Glenn Langohr. After all, he spent years living in California’s roughest prisons. Many of those years were spent in the dreaded SHU. Mr. Langohr has moved past all that, and now writes fascinating and intense books about his time on the wrong side of the barbed wire. He contributes to DeafInPrison.com, and I am honored to call him my friend.
  9. If Dr. Jean F. Andrews can be called the Elton John of Deaf education and psychology, than Dr. McCay Vernon would have been the Mick Jagger. Dr. Andrews wrote her goodbyes in this piece in September.
  10. Marsha Graham gave us her perspective on juvenile crime. Ms. Graham has been a constant supporter and aid to DeafInPrison.com – and is the individual most responsible for my success as a fledgling signer. She took me under her wing, and patiently tutored me in my early days at the ASL Meetup. She is also a dear personal friend, and I would like to take this opportunity to wish her nothing but the best of luck with her ongoing health concerns.
  11. Melisa Marzett is another Supporter Contributor. Her first piece for us was about 3-D printing in hearing aid technology.
  12. Finally, for Christmas came the single cutest video ever shot.

So, while you’re struggling with learning to write 2014 on checks and such, don’t forget to check in with DeafInPrison.com for enlightening and informative reading. Happy New Year, everybody.

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 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.

September at DeafInPrison.com

By BitcoDavid

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

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.

A Friend Whom Felix Never Met

By Pat Bliss

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

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

FaceBook
FaceBook

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

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

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

Pat Bliss

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

Felix Garcia’s Story: Part 4 in the Series

By Pat Bliss

[Editor's note: This is the 4th installation in our series on the Felix Garcia case. In this segment, Ms. Bliss presents more of the testimony, and points out the contradictions. It is presented in embedded format, and can be viewed in full screen by clicking the link at the bottom. -- BitcoDavid]

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

More on the Passing of Dr. McCay Vernon

By BitcoDavid

Three posts today. I would have done them as a digest post, but I think they each bear too much weight to handle that way.

Courtesy of FaceBook – In Honor of Mac Vernon – page

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, the man whom we should probably start referring to as our Founder, Dr. McCay Vernon, passed away on Wednesday. Here’s the obit from the funeral home.

Dr. McCay Vernon, an iconic figure in the fields of deafness and psychology, passed from life on August 28, 1913 at age 84. His exploration of the psychological aspects of deafness, his challenges to poor educational and mental health services for people who are deaf, and his advocacy of legal rights for people who are deaf extended throughout his nearly 60-year career in those fields. His lasting legacy includes the many former students and colleagues now serving in the fields of deafness and psychology.

Dr. Vernon was born at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. to Colonel Percy Vernon and Teresa Preble Vernon. Upon his father’s death, the family moved to St. Augustine where he attended Ketterlinus High School. He entered the Army at age 17 and served with military intelligence in Korea. Upon his discharge, he obtained his bachelor’s degree at the University of Florida and later earned Master’s degrees from Gallaudet University and Florida State University. He completed his doctoral work in Psychology at Claremont Graduate University in California.
Vernon was author of five books in the field of deafness, over 250 journal articles, and an award-winning public television documentary, “They Grow in Silence.” After serving in a number of schools for the deaf, he became head of a research project on deafness at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. Later he was instrumental in establishing a graduate program at Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) to prepare professionals to work with individuals who are deaf. He was active in the field of deafblindness and served on the board of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. In more recent times he focused on his forensic practice in which he became a strong advocate for justice and legal rights for people who are deaf. He was always a strong advocate for the use of sign language.
Among the many awards Vernon received during his career were The American Psychological Association Award for “Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest,” the Medal of Honor from the British Association of the Deaf, the Declaration of Merit from the World Federation of the Deaf, and the American Psychiatric Association Award for “Career Contributions to Mental Health and Deafness.” He received Honorary Doctor of Letters degrees from Gallaudet University and McDaniel College.
Vernon was predeceased by his first wife, Edith Goldston Vernon, who was deaf and played a vital role in his career. Through her, he gained critical insights into the needs of people who are deaf. With his second wife, the former Marie vonGunten, he co-authored two books on serial killers, one of whom was deaf.
Dr. Vernon is survived by his wife, Marie; his daughter, Eve Vernon Peters and son-in-law Brian Peters, of Riverton, New Jersey; brother, Col. (ret.) Graham Vernon of Carlisle, Pennsylvania; sister, Terese Vernon Douglass (Dexter) of Tallahassee; and stepchildren Dr. Jean Aims (Clifford) of Smithfield, Virginia, Hollace Feist (Rodney) of St. Augustine, Florida, Wade Wisner (Lucy) of Dandridge, Tennessee, Roger Wisner of Long Beach, California, Dr. Priscilla Wisner (Joe) of Knoxville, Tennessee and Patricia Miller (Cameron) of Reisterstown, Maryland.
His family wishes to thank the staff of the Northeast Florida Community Hospice and the Bailey Center for Caring in St. Augustine for their many kindnesses during Dr. Vernon’s final illness. No memorial service is planned at this time.
Those wishing to make a memorial donation may contribute to the Dr. McCay Vernon Fund for Support of Deaf Education, McDaniel College, 2 College Hill, Westminster, MD 21157.

To send flowers or a memorial gift to the family of McCay “Mac” Vernon please visit our Sympathy Store.

You can find this obituary online at:
http://www.craigfuneralhome.com/obituaries/Mccay-Vernon/#!/Obituary

And if you’d like, you can leave a comment on their tribute wall, here.

Here’s the Washington Post obituary:

Dr. McCay Vernon, an iconic figure in the fields of deafness and psychology, passed from life on August 28, 1913 at age 84. His exploration of the psychological aspects of deafness, his challenges to poor educational and mental health services for people who are deaf, and his advocacy of legal rights for people who are deaf extended throughout his nearly 60-year career in those fields. His lasting legacy includes the many former students and colleagues now serving in the fields of deafness and psychology. Dr. Vernon was born at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. to Colonel Percy Vernon and Teresa Preble Vernon. Upon his father’s death, the family moved to St. Augustine where he attended Ketterlinus High School. He entered the Army at age 17 and served with military intelligence in Korea. Upon his discharge, he obtained his bachelor’s degree at the University of Florida and later earned Master’s degrees from Gallaudet University and Florida State University. He completed his doctoral work in Psychology at Claremont Graduate University in California. Vernon was author of five books in the field of deafness, over 250 journal articles, and an award-winning public television documentary, “They Grow in Silence.” After serving in a number of schools for the deaf, he became head of a research project on deafness at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. Later he was instrumental in establishing a graduate program at Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) to prepare professionals to work with individuals who are deaf. He was active in the field of deaf/blindness and served on the board of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. In more recent times he focused on his forensic practice in which he became a strong advocate for justice and legal rights for people who are deaf. He was always a strong advocate for the use of sign language. Among the many awards Vernon received during his career were The American Psychological Association Award for “Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest,” the Medal of Honor from the British Association of the Deaf, the Declaration of Merit from the World Federation of the Deaf, and the American Psychiatric Association Award for “Career Contributions to Mental Health and Deafness.” He received Honorary Doctor of Letters degrees from Gallaudet University and McDaniel College. Vernon was predeceased by his first wife, Edith Goldston Vernon, who was deaf and played a vital role in his career. Through her, he gained critical insights into the needs of people who are deaf. With his second wife, the former Marie vonGunten, he co-authored two books on serial killers, one of whom was deaf. Dr. Vernon is survived by his wife, Marie; his daughter, Eve Vernon Peters and son-in-law Brian Peters, of Riverton, New Jersey; brother, Col. (ret.) Graham Vernon of Carlisle, Pennsylvania; sister, Terese Vernon Douglass (Dexter) of Tallahassee; and stepchildren Dr. Jean Aims (Clifford) of Smithfield, Virginia, Hollace Feist (Rodney) of St. Augustine, Florida, Wade Wisner (Lucy) of Dandridge, Tennessee, Roger Wisner of Long Beach, California, Dr. Priscilla Wisner (Joe) of Knoxville, Tennessee and Patricia Miller (Cameron) of Reisterstown, Maryland. His family wishes to thank the staff of the Northeast Florida Community Hospice and the Bailey Center for Caring in St. Augustine for their many kindnesses during Dr. Vernon’s final illness. No memorial service is planned at this time. Those wishing to make a memorial donation may contribute to the Dr. McCay Vernon Fund for Support of Deaf Education, McDaniel College, 2 College Hill, Westminster, MD 21157. Craig Funeral Home www.craigfuneralhome.com

Published in The Washington Post on August 29, 2013

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.

Dr. McCay Vernon Passes Away

By BitcoDavid

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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. 

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