By BitcoDavid

Here’s a joke.

The President decides to stage a contest to determine which among the FBI, the CIA and the LAPD is the best law enforcement organization. He informs the three, that their challenge is to find a rabbit in the woods. A month goes by, and the President calls representatives from each of the law enforcement groups to the White House to present their findings.

The rep for the FBI produces a 356 page document proving that no rabbits exist, or have ever existed, in the woods. The gentleman from the CIA informs the President that the Company has spent 11 million dollars destabilizing the economy of the woods, and getting all the woodland creatures hooked on cocaine.

But the guy from the LAPD shows up with a badly beaten bear. The bear – with broken paws, black eyes and swathed in bandages – yells, “OK! I’m a rabbit!”

In Murder by Cop: a growing crisis in ‘Murica, my good friends at Prisonmovement’s Weblog document the story of a man who was tasered and shot to death by a California sheriff’s deputy, after the family had called 911. They were seeking help with the man’s depression. It looks like they got it.

Police brutality and overuse of lethal force is nothing new. In fact, nowadays people react via the press, lawsuits and other methods of combating police overreach, whereas in the past, it was simply accepted as a fact of life. In the 1930s, police forces all across this country were used against the labor movement, for strike breaking and scab recruiting. In the deep South – well into the late ’80s – it was not at all uncommon for the local sheriff to run his community like a fiefdom. Cases of wrongful arrest to generate revenue from fines, or to provide a labor pool, are well documented.

And of course, I shouldn’t have to remind you of the case of 16 year-old Lucia Roberts, gang raped and murdered by Boston police in 1982. Her parents led the charge that resulted in the 2nd largest case of police corruption and misconduct in American history. Yes, I too, remember the Silver Shield.

No, this is nothing new. What is new however, is the use of para-militarized police forces across the country. What started as an outgrowth of the failed War on Drugs, has become commonplace. Swat teams armed with military weaponry and body armor are carrying out even the simplest arrests, utilizing smoke grenades, battering rams, robots and even small tanks. These hyper-charged armies of law enforcement approach every scenario as a violent and potentially deadly conflict.

This becomes a recipe for disaster. People armed for war, and kept on a hair trigger, are bound to overreact and a mouthy kid, a deaf woman or a depressed old man can easily end up becoming just one more statistic.

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.

First Video Installment – Brookline PD

By BitcoDavid

In order to maintain some continuity, I opted to make the first available video installment, the 1st section of the presentation by the Brookline Police, so as to fit in with the previous post. The video isn’t captioned, but there is a live interpreter in frame. If you need more help understanding it, let me know and I’ll caption a version for you – but the manual captioning method that I use is very time consuming and labor intensive – so if you can possibly live with this, I’d be grateful.

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.

Symposium on the Deaf and the Justice System – Part 1

By BitcoDavid

It’s going to take me several days to relay the vast amount of information that was shared at yesterday’s symposium, so please be patient while I get it all assimilated and posted. Essentially, we have a total of about 5 hours of video – between two sources, a half dozen different PowerPoint files that I am in the process of acquiring for you, and numerous reports on all I learned while attending this wonderful and highly informative meeting.

The 4 members of Brookline P.D.'s special populations partnering program. Image: BitcoDavid

The members of Brookline P.D.’s community Service Division. Image: BitcoDavid

I’ll start today, with the Brookline Police Department’s pilot program where police and volunteer citizens partner to aid the Deaf, and other people with disabilities, during emergencies.

The 2 Sergeants and 1 officer did a great job of presenting, especially when you consider that cops and show-biz are a heterogeneous mixture. I even heard a joke or two.

Pictured are the 3 members of this unique task force – not in order – Officer Casey Hatchett, Sergeant Chris Malinn and Sergeant Jennifer Paster.

Always refreshing to see cops who don't look like this! Image: Asmag.com

Always refreshing to see cops who don’t look like this! Image: Asmag.com

Sergeant Paster spoke of her first encounter with a Deaf offender. She said that the woman was severely intoxicated – so much so that she had vomited on herself – but that more significantly, the woman was following none of Paster’s commands. It occurred to Paster, during this encounter, that the woman was Deaf. Upon bringing in the woman, Paster received rebuke from her superior. He said, “What am I going to do with ‘er?” The young officer had been told that she would have done better by leaving this impaired woman on the street where she could have gone on to harm herself or others. This incident inspired Paster to seek out better ways of dealing with both disabled perpetrators and the special needs population overall.

Charles "King" Solomon funeral at Fu...

Jewish racketeer, Charles “King” Solomon funeral at Fuller St., Brookline – 1933 (Photo credit: Boston Public Library)

Sergeant Malinn has worked with the mentally ill, Autistic individuals, has trained officers on Police Professionalism issues -  including racial profiling, and is currently involved in working with youth in crisis.

Sergeant Hatchett currently works with domestic preparedness for emergency situations, child safety issues and coordinates the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). She works with volunteers to insure that the town of Brookline can meet the needs of citizens in crisis. She mentioned – yesterday – about an elderly Deaf woman who was without power for several days following a recent storm. The woman was OK, but quite concerned that nobody had come to check on her, in her apartment. Sergeant Hatchett pointed out, that this is exactly the kind of thing a volunteer group could handle, when the traditional police force is really unequipped for it.

I generally eschew anonymity, but it was nice to be able to talk to cops without the usual cotton-mouth. This Citizen thing ain’t all bad.

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.

When Will They Ever Learn…

By Jean F. Andrews

In their popular 1960’s folk song, Peter, Paul and Mary sing the ballad, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” In the ballad, is the echoing refrain, “When Will They Ever Learn,” that points a firm finger at a society engaged in the Viet Nam War, wondering sadly, Where have all the flowers, soldiers and graveyards gone?  This sweet refrain, can also be applied to the many police departments across the country in Florida, Texas, North Carolina and Colorado who repeatedly refuse to give deaf suspects and inmates sign language interpreters during questioning as well as during important events during the arrest and jail intake, processing, orientation and during needed educational and rehabilitation services. Consequently, across the country, police departments have repeated lost legal cases and have had to pay hefty settlements costing the tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mary Travers' obituary page. Examiner.com

Mary Travers’ obituary page. Examiner.com

There is an easy solution.

Simply make it the police department policy to do the following as recommended by the Department of Justice.

A police officer, upon discovering an individual is deaf, by law, must offer the individual an opportunity to request a sign language interpreter. One way the officer may do so is by providing the deaf individual with a visual representation (illustrated below) allowing the deaf individual to make a choice. It depicts the ADA recognized symbol for sign language and includes two hands signing “yes” and “no”. The deaf individual can select “yes” or “no” by pointing to, circling, or signing the choice.

Picture in when Will They Ever Learn.doc

Deaf individuals too would be wise to copy this visual and keep in their wallet in the event they are stopped by a policeman.

 

 

Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.

Police Leaders – Speak Out! Reblogged from Improving Police

By BitcoDavid

Improving Police is a Blog site we follow. It is the creation of retired Chief David Couper. As well as the site, he has written several books on the subject of making the job of law enforcement more beneficial to the community.

Lest we forget, in 1972 we had fewer than 350,000 inmates held in our nation’s prisons and jails. Today. we have more than 2 million – a quadrupling. In Europe, many countries have rates of crimes no better than ours, yet they significantly imprison fewer of their citizens.

  1. The Drug War is aimed at the kingpins — big dealers. Not true. Four out of five drug arrests are for possession, not sales. And few of those arrested for drug possession have histories of violent behavior.
  1. The Drug War is aimed at dangerous drugs. Not true. Arrests (90% of them) are for possession of marijuana.
  1. The Drug War is aimed rehabilitating addicts. Not true. The percentage of drug arrests that result in prison (versus probation, community service, or addiction treatment) has caused the great increase in our prison population and also resulted in an explosion of prison construction.

 

I would add that the above has also added to our prison addiction problem, as well as to the prevalence of drugs as currency in our prisons.

To read more of this insightful article, go here:

http://improvingpolice.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/police-leaders-speak-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.

What does placing your signature on the Miranda Waiver Really Mean?

By Jean F. Andrews

Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.

Deaf suspects are asked routinely to sign the Miranda Warning Waiver affirming they waive their rights. What does this mean? For the police and detectives this means that the deaf person understands the six statements of the Miranda and read it with comprehension. When they sign their name on the waiver, this means they waive their rights to remain silent, seek an attorney before questioning and so on.

However, the deaf person may sign their name and have a different view. A deaf defendant who may read at the third grade or below may not be able to read the Miranda. They may put their signature on the document simply to appear cooperative.

How can the detective determine if the deaf person understands the Miranda Warning? One way is to have a sign language interpreter present.

This rarely happens. Typically, police and detectives rely on written communication and lipreading which are rarely effective for deaf defendants whose primary language is American Sign Language (ASL).

Two viewpoints–one from the detective or police and one from the deaf defendants.

The police and detectives run the risk of having their interrogation and confessions of the defendant thrown out of court or suppressed if they fail to provide for a sign language interpreter. This is not only Federal law but is found in many state statutes as well.
What is the answer?
More education for detectives and police about the difficulties deaf adults have in comprehending the Miranda and the ensuring of providing deaf defendants with sign language interpreters.

[Editor's note: Recent changes by the Supreme Court involving the Miranda warning are worth noting. On June 1, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision to alter the familiar Miranda warning, adding a stipulation that requires suspects to outright state to investigators their desire to remain silent, in the same way they must specifically ask for an attorney. For more on this critical change to your legal rights, go here: http://www.mlive.com/news/bay-city/index.ssf/2010/08/local_attorneys_police_weigh_i.html or here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-1470.pdf]

“Our goal is to protect both sides of the badge.”

Houston Police Department memorial

Houston Police Department memorial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Our goal is to protect both sides of the badge.”

Sheriff Lt. Robert Henry of the Houston Police Department made these thought provoking remarks in this morning’s Houston Chronicle’s front page article, “Keeping calm in face of crises: Harris County sheriff’s team trained to defuse irrational behavior, Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, p. A1, A14).

Lt. Henry commands Harris County‘s Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT). The deputies work with professionals from Mental Health Mental Retardation of Harris County to jointly respond to calls that involve mentally-ill suspects. The deputies receive special training on how to work with mentally ill suspects.

Began nationally in the 1980′s by the Memphis, Tennessee Police Department, this program has been recently adopted in Houston. Last week, a Houston police officer shot and killed a double-amputee who threatened his partner with a pen and the crises intervention team (CIRT) was NOT there.

Houston Skyline

Houston Skyline (Photo credit: seoulpolaris)

Today’s article reports that the CIRT has been called on other cases such as when a young girl trashed her parents’ trailer and locked herself in a room. The CIRT was summoned and they were able to successfully use techniques to coax her out of the room and take her to a psychiatric hospital to be evaluated.

Allan Turner, this morning’s reporter cites that a fourth of the Houston jail’s current 8,900 inmates require some psychotropic medication.

According to Sheriff Adrian Garcia who started Houston’s CIRT program, taking a low-risk, nonviolent mentally ill person to treatment rather than jail will increase the person’s chances to not re-offend as well as decrease the costs of jails.

Sheriff Garcia’s analyses and Lt. Henry remarks are sensible. By “protecting both sides of the badge,” the policement and the consummer are protected from harm. But the CIRT must be set up as police policy in order to ensure that mentally ill individuals are protected from being harmed or tragically killed by an untrained police officer.

[Thank you Jean, for this wonderful post. We are always looking for input from the law enforcement, and correctional officer's communities. We know that their jobs are far more difficult than we can even imagine, and we're always glad to hear their perspective. - BitcoDavid]

Individuals with Disabilities and the Issue of False Confessions

False confessions are more common than expected. The most common explanations are that the suspect experiences fear, intimidation, frustration and “just wants to go home.”

Deaf individuals as well as other vulnerable groups are at risk for making false confessions because of their communication differences and disabilities, youth, and personality characteristics.  In one case I worked on the detectives did not use a sign language interpreter with a deaf woman suspect but instead used written communication and lipreading.  The detectives were not aware that the deaf woman had a second grade reading level, could barely write an English grammatical sentence, and was guessing and reading body language to try to determine what the detectives were asking her.

Furthermore, police officers are often trained in using coercive techniques, asking complex questions, repeating questions, making false promises, or threats, or using confusing and ambiguous language to force the false confession. In this article, Individuals with Disabilities and the Issue of False Confessions, published in the Champion, July 2012, p. 34-42, Dr. Vernon and I provide recommendations that can be adopted such as mandatory video recording so that vulnerable populations such as deaf individuals are provided their Constitutional Rights and to ensure there is documentation that the confession is reliable and voluntary.

[Sadly, the link to this article is unavailable, as the Champion has chosen to place it in their protected area. I have included links to their membership page, should you want to join and access it that way. Guest memberships cannot access the protected area. --BitcoDavid]

[***Update - Dr. Andrews was kind enough to e-mail me a PDF of the full article. Here's the link. - BitcoDavid]

False Confessions

 

Editorial Recommends More Police Training in Dealing with Disabled Suspects

Houston Police Department

Houston Police Department (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a scathing editorial in today’s Houston Chronicle (Tues. Sept. 25, 2012, the editor urged the Houston Police Department to undergo more training in the handling of suspects with mental illness. Referring to a tragic accident where a police officer shot an unarmed double amputee in a wheelchair who also had mental health issues who threatened him with a silver pen, the editor wondered why a taser or baton were not used instead of a gun with bullets. The man was shot and killed. (“Killing Sparks cry for HPD reform,” Monday Sept 24, 2012.
The editor recommended more police training in dealing with disabled Americans. To the editor’s suggested training needs, we also need more police training in how to effectively handle deaf and hard of hearing suspects with low language levels.

English: A 1952 Ford Customline patrol car tha...

BitcoDavid just couldn’t resist inserting this shot. [A 1952 Ford Customline patrol car that was in use by the Houston Police Department. It is now on display at the Houston Police Museum in Downtown Houston. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)]

Plea For Help From Law Enforcement

English: Two NYPD cops in a Dunkin Donuts on H...

Two NYPD cops in a Dunkin Donuts on Houston Street in the East Village. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the years, I have known some dirty cops. I’ve known some sadistic cops. I’ve even known some outright evil cops. What’s rarely mentioned however is that I’ve also known an equal number of honest, hardworking and dedicated cops who truly wanted to serve the communities in which they lived and worked.

I’ve actually interfaced with a lot of cops, and surprisingly – I don’t hate them. In fact, on balance, I’d say I generally like cops.

Since we launched this site in March of 2011, I’ve sought to give voice to the Law Enforcement side of the issue of Deaf arrest and incarceration. I’ve attempted to contact police and corrections officers. I’ve pled for people to come forward and give us their point of view. I’ve contacted prisons and county jails. I’ve talked to retired and former guards. I’ve even written to a former cop, who’s now a blogger. In his defense, he did get back to me, but said he had no experience to share.

Through all this, I’ve learned one hard lesson. Cops really don’t want to talk about being cops.

17/365: "...Conquers All"

17/365: “…Conquers All” (Photo credit: thewoodenshoes)

I have been unable to find a single law enforcement or corrections officer who wants to step forward and be interviewed, or write an editorial piece for the site.

The other day, after going rounds with my trainer – we were working on feinting to a body shot, and following through with an uppercut – I made my usual Dunkin Donuts stop. I’m sure none will be surprised to discover that there were cops in there.

So there I am, sweat dripping from my soaked through Under Armour gear, and I decide – out of desperation at this point – to walk up and just ask ‘em.

“Excuse me officers. I’m not crazy, but I need to ask you a question that’s going to sound kind of weird. Have any of you ever arrested, or interacted with a deaf person?”

“Nope. No. Uh-uh. Nah… yeah, I have.”

“You have?” says I. “Would you be interested in being interviewed on the Internet?”

“Nah. I don’t think so. No. I couldn’t do that. I don’t even think they’d let me do that.”

It’s at this point that I see the Tasers coming out, and that look cops get when they think you’re a couple of tacos short of a combination plate. So, I decide to explain.

“I’m a writer and I edit a blog site called DeafInPrison.com. There are numerous issues faced by the Deaf community regarding prison and law enforcement – and I’m always looking for input from your perspective.”

Well, here’s where the jokes start. I’ll skip them here, because I’m sure you can imagine them, but the upshot was – I was politely asked to move along.

I don’t understand this. We never intended this to be a slam site. Sure, we seek to raise awareness on a tragic issue and perhaps in some small way effect change, but we’re trying to be open and fair. I would imagine that the line of officers wanting to plead their case would extend around the block. It should look like the opening night of a Jaws remake, but all in blue. It doesn’t.

So once again, I’ll turn it over to you – our readers, supporters and contributors. If any of you know a police or corrections officer who wants to be afforded the opportunity to tell this story from their point of view, please tell them to contact us. There are numerous ways to access us through this site.  Just the same, here’s an embedded mailto link.

Tell them that we promise to be fair and open-minded. We’re here to learn and to foster change, not to build walls and alienate the very people who can help us the most.

Innocent deaf woman spends 60 hours in jail without interpreter – From Prisonmovent’s Weblog

 

Prisonmovement’s Weblog

This story is reblogged from Prisonmovement’s Weblog. It is more on the story of Lashonn White, a story we covered on August 8th.

 

“I mean imagine—all I did was come running, wave my hands and come running out, and the next thing I know I’m on the ground,” White explained to Halsne through a certified American Sign Language interpreter.

Here’s the link to Prisonmovement’s coverage.

 

http://prisonmovement.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/innocent-deaf-woman-spends-60-hours-in-jail-without-interpreter/

 

She was attacked in her home, and called Tacoma, WA. police via video interpreting service. The service – as they always do – identified her to police as a Deaf individual. When police arrived at her home, she ran out of the house seeking their protection. They yelled “Stop,” which she, of course, couldn’t hear – so they tasered her.

 

Halsne discovered that when someone who doesn’t speak English is booked into the Pierce County Jail, staff calls interpreters on the phone so they can explain basic information to the new inmate like charges, medical needs and the time of their initial court date.

Deaf inmates don’t get that same courtesy because the jail does not have a video phone which allows for sign language communications.

Now, unfortunate though it may be, I do understand their actions. Police are faced with life and death situations every day. They often don’t have the luxury of being able to use judgement beyond survival instinct. What I don’t get however, is how they can then lock her up, without an interpreter, for 3 full days.

 

Prisonmovement’s Weblog is – as most of you already know – one of our favorite sites, and they did an excellent job with this post. Please click on the above link and learn more.

 

English: A Video Relay Service session, where ...

English: A Video Relay Service session, where a Deaf, Hard-Of-Hearing or Speech-Impaired individual can communicate with a hearing person via a Video Interpreter (a Sign Language interpreter), using a videophone or similar video telecommunication unit. The hearing person with whom the Video Interpreter is also communicating can not be seen in the photo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Demand Justice for Lashonn White

In keeping with the Post-a-Day Challenge, I’ve got tons of stuff lined up for you. Not one but 2 follow-ups to yesterday’s post on Internet Interpreting, a story on the inequality in school suspensions of disabled students and Part 5 of the Felix Garcia interview. But for right now, there’s this:

***

Lashonn White is a deaf woman who called 911 after being attacked in her apartment. Instead of helping her, Tacoma police tasered her and put her in jail for 60 hours without an interpreter.

Two police officers were dispatched who had been told that she is deaf. She ran outside to meet them, and immediately, Officer Koskovich tasered her in her rib and stomach. Because of the fall, she suffered heavy bleeding from her knuckles, injuries to her cheek, chin, ribs, neck, and arms, and swelling on the right side of her face. Then they handcuffed her.

White was incredibly confused as to why she was under arrest, and couldn’t talk to the officers because they don’t know sign language. Koskovich said that he had yelled for White to stop, but she had ignored him — in reality, she couldn’t hear him. 

Tell the Tacoma Police Department that all officers need to receive training concerning disabled individuals and to do a full investigation of the incident. Demand justice for Lashonn White!

Here’s the link to the original article and a petition.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/106/043/884/justice-for-deaf-woman-tasered-and-jailed-by-police/?z00m=20380296

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.

County Jails vs. Prison from a Paralegal Perspective

I was asked by BitcoDavid to give my impressions of jail and prison as a paralegal. From 1993 to the end of 2006, I have spent a lot of my time either going into a prison or a jail. I hear many confuse the word jail when they mean prison so let me clarify the difference. Simply put, if one is arrested and awaiting trial, is convicted or pleas to a sentence that is less than one year – that person will serve his sentence in a county jail. If after a trial or a plea, and the sentence is a year on up – that person goes to a state prison. Federal sentences are carried out a bit differently – they are mainly all served in a federal prison.

When I was first hired as a paralegal in 1996, it was primarily to be the liaison between jail and the law office. I was already involved in prison ministry and had been inside many prisons by then. Therefore, this new position seemed to fit right in.  Jails are a different animal than prisons. Between the two, just about any inmate will take a prison over a jail. Why?

Jail is a 24-hour confinement in a cell pod area – no place to walk, except for possibly one hour of recreation a day in a small area. A few other activities could be attending a religious service, going to the law library, visiting with legal counsel or reporting to medical – if necessary. In one jail where I visited clients, medium and minimum-security inmates walked to chow. Maximum-security inmates were served at their cells. Cell pods are large enclosures composed of beds and tables, or separate areas consisting of smaller cells around the walls, with tables in the middle. They’re often overflowing, with inmates sleeping on the floor – very close quarters. However, the stress is probably the worst factor. The majority of inmates are awaiting trial. Tensions are high. Mistrust is like nowhere else.  Con games are going on constantly, and some inmates become snitches for the State, hoping it will help them get a better deal. Unfortunately, it often works.

In order to get inside a jail, I needed a permission letter written by the attorney, to a Captain or Sergeant in the Sheriff’s Office who oversees visitations by legal counsel. When I would show up to see a client, and my name checked with date and time entered, I was given a badge to wear while inside. I generally had a one-hour time limit, but if I were to see more than one client, then I had however long it took to complete the visitation. One time I got so busy seeing clients (I had about 6) I didn’t watch the clock, and when I went to leave the normal way, no one was on duty. In fact, I could not see anyone down one hall or another. I felt a little panic as I forgot how to get to Intake, where new arrestees are brought in. Finally, I found Intake and explained why I was inside. Because they had seen my face before, they believed me and we had a good laugh. Maybe if this had happened after 9/11 it would not have been so funny as many rules changed after that.

Before 9/11, in the 1990s, I had a lot of leeway.  At this one jail, there were 5 floors. Each floor had 2 to 3 attorney rooms – mostly glass – where I was locked in with the inmate. Often, those rooms were occupied. No problem! On one particular floor, they had a broom closet with a metal bench type table. Yes, that is where I would go and meet with the client among mops, buckets and sanitizers! Actually, I got the job done very well, and could leave when I wanted to. I almost preferred this room. In the attorney room, I would have to ring a buzzer, and wait for a deputy to open the door so I could leave.

That was another story, waiting on the deputy to open the door – letting me out was not top priority. Several times I would be locked in for quite awhile because, for example, of shift changes. I would much rather been in the broom closet, and able to leave whenever I wanted.

Each jail has a different layout, therefore, it would behoove you to listen to directions thoroughly, the first time – one could get confused with all the hallways. Some used color-coded stripes on walls or floors to different wings. Video cameras were strategically placed.

Like I mentioned earlier, inmates would prefer prison to jail. Where jail is quite confining, prison allows more freedom. One could almost say, prison is like a community environment –everyone makes their own bed and does their own laundry. They have a job to do every day. If not working at a job, inmates can go to classes like GED, or learn a skill. Outside ministry programs like Prison Fellowship and Kairos, [Kairos Prison Ministry – ed.] offer church services. Typically, there will be a law library. Inmates walk to chow, can exercise or join a sports team, go to the canteen and make phone calls. All of this of course is regulated, but from this perspective, there is more of a life.

Then there is the emotional factor. In prison, they know they are there for a while. It could be a little over a year, or for life. Nevertheless, the tension of not knowing the immediate future is gone. They settle in, so to speak, to start a new life. This new life though, offers new challenges – just like in any new neighborhood. Every prison has its gangs, its predators, nice people and bad people.

Well, aren’t they all bad? You would be surprised at how many decent people find that they are suffering the consequences of a bad decision, for whatever reason. Of course, many are actually innocent. That is where I come in – the innocent! It has been my passion all the while, in criminal law, to help free the innocent – to see justice done.

Prisoners Helping Prisoners

by McCay Vernon, McDaniel College & Katrina R. Miller, Emporia State University

Doing Time

At the end of his trial, Mark Brackmann heard the verdict: nine years in prison. Shortly thereafter, he was in a jail cell awaiting transfer to the penitentiary. He had never been in a prison before and knew little about what he would face there. He was saddened that he would be separated from his family and friends, and was leaving behind the two successful businesses he had started from scratch. Literacy among state prisoners is typically lower than the general public (“National Assessment,” 2007). Like many educated men entering prison for the first time, Mark thought he would be very much alone and did not think he would find in prison anyone with whom he would have much in common.

Once assigned to prison in Wakula, Florida, Mark began to get acquainted with his fellow inmates, the guards, and other prison officials. He soon discovered that many of the prison inmates he met were similar to persons he had known on the outside. Some had a positive outlook, others were depressed and angry. Some had college degrees, others had only minimal education. Some had led interesting, productive lives on the outside, others had barely scraped by. Despite those differences, Mark learned that most of the men had dreams and ambitions for their futures, just as he did. For example, many who had spent their lives in crime-ravaged neighborhoods wanted to live where it was safe. Some prisoners hoped to spend time with their children, to be employed, and to have a home. Others dreamed of establishing their own businesses.

Few of these individuals had given serious thought as to how they would achieve their goals, nor had they made the effort to implement their future plans. In fact, only a tiny minority had worked out specific, realistic itineraries for their lives following discharge. As time wears on, inmate self-concept may degrade (Walrath, 2001).

Making Time Matter

In numerous correctional institutions, GED and vocational programming is strongly supported and sometimes court-ordered (“National Assessment,” 2007). Given Mark’s background as a college graduate, his first assignment as an inmate was to prepare fellow inmates to take and pass the GED test for their high school diplomas. He proved very effective at this task. About the same time, Mark formed a close friendship with another inmate, Jeff Botward, who had been a banker prior to his incarceration. Both men were appalled that so many of their peers were doing nothing constructive to prepare themselves for life after release from prison. Nor were they getting needed guidance from the prison staff regarding their futures and the hurdles they would face upon release.

It is notable that former inmates struggle more with keeping employment than acquiring a job. Many earn their GEDs, but lack basic social and life skills that are essential to the workplace (Koski, 1998). Rather than commiserate about the problem, Mark and Jeff decided to do something about it. They discussed the issues and proposed solutions to the prison chaplain, Reverend Allison, and to other interested prison officials. These officials were impressed by and supportive of the idea of helping inmates prepare for discharge back into society. Despite initial objections from some of the more traditional officers, the program Mark and Jeff had proposed was started.

Their first step was to write a book, Life Mapping, which was to be the text for their proposed course. The book detailed the specific steps prisoners should take while behind bars, in order to prepare for life outside prison. It also provided guidance on issues ex-convicts would face and how to cope with those problems after release.

Life Mapping

After Mark and Jeff finished writing Life Mapping, Reverend Allison and a few other prison officials who saw its value arranged to have the book printed. Once the book was available, classes in Life Mapping were begun despite continuing objections from some prison officials. Fortunately, key authorities supported the program and made it possible for Mark and Jeff to conduct classes using the text they had written.

From the beginning, the class proved to be a success. At the conclusion of the Life Mapping class, each student was required to take the poium and share his personalized Life Map.

Mark and Jeff were inundated with requests to open up more classes on Life Mapping. A volunteer professor from Florida State University, Dr. Mike Wallace, observed some of the sessions. Describing them, he said, “They are like a single flower in the desert. It is a miracle that the flower can survive in a harsh, inhospitable prison environment, yet it does. Its beauty is stunning, but even more so because of the austerity that surrounds it.”

Mark and Jeff were excited by Dr. Wallace’s evaluation, but knew they and their fellow inmates had to do more if they were to change the barren culture of the prison system. “We put everything we had into making Life Mapping class a success,” Mark explained.

Growing opportunities

About the same time Life Mapping classes started, another program was launched by an inmate who had studied how to write a business plan. He now teaches that course to fellow prisoners. His program was effective although rough in spots, and could be improved upon. Another class is currently forming, focused on credit and debt management.

The inmates involved in instructing these classes met and formed a steering committee that included Mark, Jeff, and another prisoner, Darrel Simpson. The committee’s goal is to oversee and plan so that the classes developed by inmates are organized, unique, and effective.

The inmates who did the organizational work wanted to brand what they were doing, so they chose the name Realizing Educational and Financial Smarts (REEFS) for the steering committee and bank of educational programs. As their work continued and time passed, the prison culture did change. By now, 6,000 prisoners have completed REEFS courses.

Ordinarily, as one walks through a prison dorm, the prevalent activities are gambling, card games, arguments, sports talk, or fighting. By contrast, today many of the prisoners in the REEFS Program are discussing business plans and goals, while others are reading about current events in business, religion, marketing, and trade journals.

These are positive changes, but they did not come about easily. For example, there were volunteers who wanted to teach, but were unqualified. Some volunteers sought to take ownership of the REEFS’ program and materials. Inmates found it difficult to say no to volunteers due to their lower social status. While most students in the classes were eager to learn, some presented a challenge to instructors. For instance, some wanted to fight when their academic work was deemed unsatisfactory.

The REEFS Program

The REEFS program has successfully demonstrated a way to improve prison systems nationally, not just in Wakula, Florida. It has been shown that exposing inmates to REEFS programming can effect a change in the attitudes and goals of a significant number of participants, as well as positively impacting the prison environment or atmosphere in general. Disciplinary actions decrease in correctional facilities offering educational and vocational programming (Torre & Fine, 2005). The REEFS participants were transformed from idle inmates with few realistic goals to life planners, using their time in prison for self-improvement and preparation for their return to society.

The REEFS Program addresses three crucial factors that prison administrators in the United States presently face: recidivism, costs, and unproductive use of inmates’ time. To implement the REEFS Program or others like it requires that key officials in state prisons adopt an approach similar to Wakula. Lower recidivism rates are associated with prison-based education programming (Torre & Fine, 2005). The financial savings alone would more than justify any costs associated with implementation of such a program.

In order to make the Wakula program a success, there was a high level of collaboration between prison officials and inmates. Cooperation between these two groups is a key element of building an effective program. Additionally, many prison chaplains value educational and vocational training as an avenue to change for offenders and may be a useful resource in program building (Sundt, Dammer, & Cullen, 2002)

Understandably, inmate-steered programs present a concern for prison officials, who are often hesitant to create opportunities for dangerous offenders to disrupt or take over the proceedings. To avoid this, careful screening of prospective participants is required at Wakula.

Most inmates self-select for educational programs in prison, which is considered a coping strategy (Jackson & Innes, 2001). Among inmates, there is a correlation between lower education levels and lack of participation in educational opportunities, suggesting that encouraging inmates to complete their GEDs may increase their interest in continuing educational pursuits (Jackson & Innes, 2001).

Utilizing Peer Resources

Many state prison systems today have sophisticated intake procedures that involve the use of educational achievement testing and data on previous schooling to assess the academic levels of incoming inmates. Some prisons also perform intelligence testing and obtain data on inmates’ work histories. Additionally, all prisons archive details relating to inmates’ criminal records.

While prisoners are outcasts, representative of drug addicts and alcoholics, sex offenders, and violent offenders, the prison population also includes a significant number of well-educated persons in professions and trades such as teacher, professor, business, cleric, physician, accountant, lawyer, and politician. While these inmates have been convicted of various crimes and are consequently serving time, they may also serve as a resource, helping other inmates prepare for the GED test and teaching life skills courses. Walrath’s 2001 study of a peer-run prison program found that in addition to behavioral changes, optimism among inmates was improved as a result of participation.

Because state prison systems do not typically harness inmate potential, a majority of prison inmates leave the system poorly educated and unprepared for life on the outside. Society pays the price in terms of recidivism and enormous criminal justice costs.

Attaining a GED and completing vocational training is not enough. A key problem that may ex-convicts face is not acquiring employment, but maintaining it. Because so many offenders have complex educational deficits, a multidimensional and internally consistent approach to self-improvement that includes life planning is recommended (Koski, 1998). The model that Mark Brackmann and Jeff Botward created at Wakula has proven successful in preparing inmates to re-enter life outside of prison. It provides an outstanding model of prisoners helping prisoners.

References

Jackson, K.L., & Innes, C.A. (2001). Affective predictors of voluntary inmate

program participation. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 30 (3/4), 1-20

Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage. (Summer 2007). National assessment of adult literacy and literacy among prison inmates. Alaska Justice Forum, 24(2), 2-4

Koski, D.D. (1998) Vocational education in prison. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 27: 3, 151-164

Sundt, J.L., Dammer, H.R., & Cullen, F.T. (2002) The role of the prison chaplain in rehabilitation. Religion, The Community, and the Rehabilitation of Criminal Offenders, 59-86.

Torre, E.T., & Fine, M. (2005). Bar none: Extending Affirmative Action to higher education in prison. Journal of Social Issues, 61(30, 569-594

Walrath, C. (2001). Evaluation of an inmate-run alternatives to violence project: The impact of inmate-to-inmate intervention. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 16, 697-711.

Pre-trial Motions

[Editor's Note: Although this pertains to the Felix Garcia case, I wanted Pat to post it on the scroll, because I believe we can all benefit from any insight as to the inner workings of the Court system. After all, forewarned is forearmed, and where the Courts are concerned, there but for the grace of God...]

[Author's Note: This is sort of a monotonous time for most everyone involved. I say most as you still have those attorneys who find every aspect of the trial process exciting. At the September 25, 1981 hearing where Felix was given court appointed counsel, Attorney Raul Palomino entered a Not Guilty Plea on behalf of his client/defendant. With that, the pre-trial motions start. I will highlight some of them that I hope will give you, the reader, some insight into the motion aspect of a trial. I will leave out mentioning the Criminal Rule numbers, Constitutional amendments, any mundane speech, to try to make it informative yet not boring.]

1. Demand For Discovery.

This is where the defense demands the State to disclose within 15 days all the information they have against his client. It is pretty standard in every one:

A)   Names of all persons of interest relevant to the offense charged and to any defense with respect thereto.

B)   Any statements made by any person listed in preceding paragraph.

C)   Any oral or written statement by the defendant.

D)   Any tangible papers or objects obtained or belonged to the defendant.

E)   Any material or information provided by a confidential informant and name.

F)   Any electrical surveillance or wiretapping of the premise or conversations to which the defendant was a party to.

G)   Any search and seizure of any documents.

H)   Reports or statements of experts made in connection with this case, including results of mental or physical examinations, and scientific tests, experiments or comparisons.

I )   Any material information within the State’s possession or control which tends to negate the guilt of the Defendant as to the offense charged, or to        punishment, or the credibility of the State’s witnesses.

What the Defense here is requesting from the State is to inspect, copy, test and photograph this information so everyone begins the trial on equal ground. The Defense wants to know what the State knows that makes them certain they have the right person. The Defense then builds its defense on what it receives. If you heard the term Prosecutorial Misconduct, it generally stems from this request. The State may inadvertently or purposely leave out, misplace or hide information, or whatever, and because of it, the Defendant doesn’t get a fair trial. I might add that in return, the Defense shares their list of witnesses and exhibits with the State.

2. Motion For Statement Of Particulars.

This motion demands the State to show exactly what the evidence was that lead to an arrest of the Defendant. This motion is tailored to the alleged crime charged in the Indictment.

A)   Exact date on which the offense alleged in the Indictment occurred.

B)   Exact time on which the offense alleged in the Indictment occurred.

C)   Exact place or addresses where the offense alleged in the Indictment                        occurred.

D)   Particular description of the firearm which was allegedly utilized.

E)   Whether crime charged in the Indictment is predicated on the theory of

premeditated murder or felony-murder, and if on felony-murder, the type of  felony allegedly perpetrated at the time of the alleged homicide.

F)   Whether the Defendant was the actual perpetrator or an aider and abetter of  the offense alleged in the Indictment; if the Defendant was an aider and         abetter, whether or not the Defendant’s actions made him accountable for the    crime charged as an accessory before the fact or as a principal in the first             degree or as a principal in the second degree.

This is to pin down the State to exactness and not generalities or broadness. This can also be used as a factor if there has been a change in law during the period of the alleged transaction and the trial to determine, if found guilty, the degree of punishment at sentencing.

3. Motion For Statement of Particulars Relating To Aggravating Circumstances.

This case was filed as a Capital Felony (where the death penalty was a possibility). These trials are done in two phases -  Guilt Phase and Sentencing Phase. When the Defendant is found guilty, then the Sentencing Phase begins. At this juncture, the State will introduce aggravating circumstances to enhance the punishment – to prove that death is warranted. This motion is gleaning the proof the State intends to adduce at sentencing which is:

A)   Whether the State intends to prove that the Defendant has previously been  convicted of another Capital Felony or a Felony involving the use or threat of    violence to the person, and if so, the nature of the previous conviction, the          date thereof, the Court in which said conviction occurred, the style of the             case and case number, and any other relevant particulars.

B)   [ I’ll be more brief on the rest.] Whether the State intends to prove the            Defendant  knowingly created a great risk of death to any persons.

C)   Whether the State intends to prove the Capital Felony was committed while  the Defendant engaged in, an accomplice, or attempt to commit another               criminal act: robbery, rape, arson etc.

D)   Whether the State intends to prove the Capital Felony was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing lawful arrest or effecting an escape from   custody.

F)    Whether the State intends to prove the Capital Felony was committed for     pecuniary gain.

G)   Whether the State intends to prove the Capital Felony was committed to        disrupt or hinder lawful exercise of any governmental function or                             enforcement of laws.

H)   Whether the State intends to prove the Capital Felony was especially               heinous, atrocious or cruel.

This last particular  is generally the one the public is most acquainted with. And is the issue on appeal the most times before any court in a death sentence. There will be witnesses at the Sentencing Phase and the Defense will also ask the State for a list of their witnesses and experts, and what aggravating circumstance will they will be related to.

Just so you know, the Defense will introduce Mitigating circumstances at Sentencing to try to cancel out any enhancements towards death versus Life. We’ll get to that later.

Deaf slaying suspect had also stabbed another woman | Richmond Times-Dispatch

Deaf slaying suspect had also stabbed another woman | Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Don’t Talk to Police – The Coolest Explanation You Will Ever Get

bitcodavid:

If hearing people can’t get a fair shake during an arrest procedure, think how the Deaf must fare.

Originally posted on CrimeDime:

You have to watch this video twice. The first time, you will be mesmerized by this law professor’s raw talent for averaging 22.6 words per second with an unmatched ability to simultaneously entertain, wave his hand around, chew gum, rub his belly, and pat the top of head without breathing. Okay, I exaggerated. But only a little.

The second time you watch the video, you can actually pay attention to the content. James Duane gives seven reasons to aspiring attorneys that their clients should never talk to the police.

1. There is no way it can help.

2. If your client is guilty — and even if he is innocent — he may admit his guilt with no benefit in return.

3. Even if your client is innocent and denies his guilt and mostly tells the truth, he can easily get carried away and tell some little lie or make…

View original 245 more words

The Costs of…

Dirk Becker, a fan of ours on FaceBook, posted this on the timeline page.
The Costs of Incarceration- Canada

Correctional services expenditures totaled almost $3 billion in 2005/6, up 2% from the previous year.
Custodial services (prisons) accounted for the largest proportion (71%) of the expenditures, followed by community supervision services (14%), headquarters and central services (14%), and National Parole Board and provincial parole boards (2%).
This figure does not include policing or court costs which bring the total expenditures up to more than $10 billion for the year.
Cost of incarcerating a Federal prisoner (2004/5): $259.05 per prisoner/per day
Cost of incarcerating a Federal female prisoner (2004/5): $150,000-$250,000 per prisoner/per year
Cost of incarcerating a Federal male prisoner (2004/5): $87,665 per prisoner/per year
Cost of incarcerating a provincial prisoner (2004/5): $141.78: per prisoner/per day
The cost of alternatives such as probation, bail supervision and community supervision range from $5-$25/day.

 

The Interrogation August 11, 1981

This was taken from Pat Bliss’ ongoing serialization of the Felix Garcia story, as it appears on her page. It’s so good, I decided to put it on the scroll as well. Enjoy.
BitcoDavid
Photo courtesy of Mother Jones / Pat Bliss

The Interrogation August 11, 1981

When Felix arrived at SOC at approximately 12:40 a.m., August 11, 1981,  he was placed in a small room with Det. Kevin Fitzpatrick and Det. Luis and Det. Nelm for questioning. Felix described the room. In fact, he drew me a picture of it – a book shelve on one wall and a table in the middle, with himself sitting on one side. Officers sat across from him. I could picture him looking around to see what was next. He was charged with First Degree Murder and Armed Robbery. He told me he had no idea what murder meant as he had not heard the word before.

Det. Nelm stated in the police report Felix was read his Miranda Rights, also called a Consent to Interview Form. In the 1983 trial transcripts on this same subject, Det. Fitzpatrick testified:

Q. Did you read Mr. Garcia’s Constitutional Rights, sir?

A. Yes, sir, I did.

Q. Did it appear to you Mr. Garcia had any problems understanding what you were telling him, sir?

A. No, sir.

But did Felix really  understand his rights?  In an off the record comment by Det. Fitzpatrick:

Q. Was he asked if he understood his rights?

A. Yes, he was.

Q. Did he reply “Yes”?

A. He indicated that he understood his rights.

Det. Fitzpatrick said Felix “indicated” he understood. That comment was never cleared as to what Felix did to indicate – a nod of the head? So when I asked Felix on one of my legal visits to the county jail on August 15, 1998,  if his rights were read, my notes reflect his answer was “I didn’t know what they were until I  got to prison.” I said did you sign a confession? Felix replied no. Anything written down? He said no. That is true, no form was signed as verified by Det. Fitzpatrick:

Q. Did you have him sign the rights card?

A. No. I didn’t.

Q. Did you have him sign a Consent to Interview form?

A. Not that I recall.

Since the officers were satisfied Felix had his Rights read and understood what they were, they were ready to begin to question him. As Det. Fitzpatrick testified:

Q. But did you, in fact, at anytime find out if he wanted to talk to you? Did he say he would talk to you?

A. Based on past experience, having advised him of his rights, having had the defendant tell me that he understood his rights, until such time as he said he wanted an attorney, I felt free to ask him any questions I wanted to ask him.

The questioning began and in the police report it briefly states:

“Mr. Garcia’s only statement was that the ring he sold to the Tampa Gun and Pawn Shop was a ring he had bought on 22nd St. from an unknown person. Mr Garcia declined to discuss any information concerning the murder and requested an attorney at that point. Writer did not question Mr. Garcia any further.”

The trial transcript of Det. Fitzpatrick’s testimony went into a little more detail:

Q. What did you ask him, if you recall?

A. I asked him is he knew the victim. I asked him about any possible involvement that he might have in the case. I asked him about how he might have come in contact with the jewelry.

Q. And what was Felix Garcia’s response?

A. He stated that he got the jewelry on 22nd Street. He denied having any knowledge of the victim, denied having any involvement in the case…

At the beginning of my legal visits,  I had asked Felix to write out what he remembered when arrested and at the interrogation. These are his exact words and he numbered his comments:

1. Everyone was talking at once – could not understand. I told them to “one person has to speak at a time, I can’t understand.”

2. He [an officer] said something about 22nd street and I said “yes that’s what their saying.”

3. He asked me to speak to god that he was going to give me time. When he closed the door the light flashed and I knew something was there. I cleared  my throat a couple of times and the light flashed.

4. I didn’t know god back then but I prayed and told the truth about everything I knew.

[Author's note: I was a little stunned to see what Felix wrote concerning God. This is what he thought was asked of him in the interrogation. Misunderstanding words is so very common for the deaf. In other notes I see where he said “one officer would be nice and the other would be mean. That they kept saying ‘you do know’ and I would say ‘I don’t know’.” He said he didn’t ask for an attorney [didn’t know he needed one]. He did what all deaf typically do, though, be agreeable.  It was his custom to try to follow someone’s speech, to grasp a word here and there of what he thought he understood, watch facial expressions and then make some sense out of it. However,  it does appear from my notes that Felix’s memory about his interrogation was not reminiscent of the details by the officers.

What went on in the interrogation room will never be known.  Det. Fitzpatrick had testified nothing was written down nor was it taped. This hurts, because the interrogation of Felix Garcia was what others said  he said  - the officers, Ray, Tina  – and no external proof to show otherwise. Being deaf is not fair in the judicial system.]

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