Broken Sign: Important Announcement from BitcoDavid

By BitcoDavid

I must admit, I learned this the same way a Japanese rock singer learns an American song. Nonetheless, I’m pretty proud of myself.

If you would be interested in doing this, use the contact form below. Please hurry, the window of opportunity is closing fast. Shooting is scheduled for the 1st week in June.

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.

H.P. Lovecraft Couldn’t Make This Up

By Pat Bliss

A 1934 issue of Weird Tales, the magazine in which first appeared H.P. Lovecraft's Gothic chiller, Rats in the Walls. Photo: Wikipedia

A 1934 issue of Weird Tales, the magazine in which first appeared, H.P. Lovecraft’s Gothic chiller, Rats in the Walls. Photo: Wikipedia

this is an excerpt from a 26 page letter that I received from a Deaf inmate. It was his story about going to medical, that I last posted. He is in solitary confinement now, for trying to help another inmate. Rather than going into all the details of that, I felt I wanted to share this particular portion of the letter with you.

Further, this place is infested with the mice and rats that I told you about before. In fact its more infested with mice and rats since the last time I told you about it. They have had time to breed. Its so full of mice and rats that you have to stay awake when the lights go out or they will actually crawl up on the bunk with you.

They [the cells] have foot lockers bolted to the walls that set higher then the bottom bunk that almost level with the top bunk that these mice and rats will climb up on, run along the foot lockers and jump off in the bunk where you are laying.

   

Splinter in the 2008 season of TMNT

Splinter in the 2008 season of TMNT (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Me and my cell partner stay up all night when the lights are out to see how many we can kill. We have rat killings. We will take one each of my boots which are heavy and will sit off on the bunk. Be real quiet. Wait for them to start coming in and see if we can hit them with a boot and kill them. So far I have gotten at least one each night. They are quick, I’ll say that for them. Hell, last night I thought I had two I got one then a little while later this one comes off in here. I throughed [throwed] the boot at him he turned sideways from where I hit him. About this time they [DOC] turned the lights on, he was only stunned. I picked up the boot went to hit him with it again. The SOB hunched up his back raised his front two paws and had the hair on this back standing straight up. I thought of Master Splinter the Rat off of Nija Turtles!!
  

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.

The Things We Take for Granted

By Pat Bliss

I Need a Doctor

I Need a Doctor Photo: Wikipedia

 

I get many letters from prisoners that just say they had to go to see a doctor or to medical for some reason. But in this one instance, a deaf prisoner in one of Florida’s prisons gave me an in-depth look as to what a prisoner goes through just to be there for a doctor appointment. These are his words:

I have been on call-out so much with medical with test after test. Seriously I am told to get up at 2:00 A.M. for a blood test, I come back [to my dorm] around 3:00 A.M. Am given a call-out to the main unit for 7:00 A.M. I get on a bus to go the main unit. Sit there to around 1:00 P.M. or 2:00 P.M. to see the Doctor. And do not get on a bus to come back to my dorm until 9:30 P.M. to 1:30 A.M. Any time between 9:00 P.M. to 1:30 A.M.  is when I am put on the bus to come back to my dorm. Several days in a row I have had this process repeat itself with these same time frames. So I have not hardly any sleep at all let alone had time to do anything like read a book. I catch pure hell just trying to get a shower and a hour or two of sleep here and there.

I would say we have nothing to complain about, out here in society when we have to wait a couple hours, if that. It struck me how frustrating it is to be a prisoner. No books, magazines or TV provided to help wile away the time while waiting your turn to see the doctor. Couple that with being deaf – and all that that involves.

– 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.

Prison News Update

By BitcoDavid

Português: Uma cela moderna em Brecksville Pol...

Brecksville Police Department, Brecksville, Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been swamped and working hard on getting caught up on videos and other projects, which I know you’ve been waiting for. Trust me, they’re coming. But I wanted to get a post up here, which will bring you up to speed on some of what’s going on within the prison system.

On November 10th, the New York Times reported on the Second Chance Act.

The act, aimed at helping states and localities reduce recidivism, encourages changes like those that have already taken place in Kansas, Texas and Oregon. The states have expanded community-based drug treatment programs, improved postprison supervision and retooled parole systems that once shunted people back to jail not for actual crimes but for technical violations that are more cheaply and effectively dealt with through community-based sanctions like house arrest or mandatory drug treatment.

Still, states that want to cut recidivism rates deeply and permanently must also rethink thousands of laws and regulations that punish ex-offenders after they leave jail by denying them jobs, homes and basic credentials like drivers’ licenses.

Prison

Prison (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And of course, obvious in its omission is the denial of voting rights to former felons. I was always led to believe that once you paid your debt to society, you’re square with the house again. In many states, that’s no longer the case. Your mistakes and missteps follow you for life.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, for example, has urged public housing agencies not to adopt blanket policies of excluding prospective tenants with conviction records and to take other factors, including a family’s willingness to participate in counseling programs, into account.

And last spring, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reinforced and clarified an old policy barring employers from automatically denying employment to people based on arrest or conviction records. The employer must consider the seriousness of the offense, the time that has passed since conviction and the relevance of the crime to the job in question.

One unfinished piece of business for Washington is to regulate the job-screening companies that routinely make disastrous errors when reporting criminal background information on job applicants.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/opinion/sunday/how-to-cut-prison-costs.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20121111&_r=0

***

I just can’t get enough of Prisonmovement’s Weblog. On November 11th, they posted a Los Angeles Times article on the impact of the notorious and wrong headed Three Strikes Law.

Inmates prepare to leave for dinner in Facility B at the California State Prison-Lancaster, on June 10, 2010. 200 inmates are housed in cells (top) and due to overcrowding another 40 inmates sleep in bunks on the day room area (floor). There are approximately 4600 prisoners currently in this state prison which normally houses 2300 inmates. A legal battle over who gets to control California’s massive spending on prison – judges or corrections officials – may be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court with overcrowding at the state’s 33 prisons at the center of the debate.
Image Courtesy of PrisonMovement’s Weblog

Is California’s costly tough-on-crime era over? That’s perhaps too optimistic a conclusion to draw from Tuesday’s election results. In passing Proposition 36, voters curbed some of the excesses of the state’s three-strikes law, but they also rejected a measure to roll back the death penalty and adopted one — Proposition 35 — that broadens the sex offender registry and imposes new life terms for some human trafficking offenses. The state has ceased its relentless march down a road toward ever-tougher sanctions, ever-more-crowded prisons and ever-rising costs. It has not turned the corner, but it’s peering around it, trying to get a sense of whether it’s safe to proceed.

Readers of DeafInPrison.com already know that California has the worst prison overcrowding problem of any of the 50 states. But we also know that all of the states are literally suffocating, in ever increasing prison populations.

For the last two decades California voters have listened too often to their fear when going to the polls, so it’s important to remember that in previous years, initiatives generally steered clear of crime and punishment. Voters adopted a host of prison construction bonds in the 1980s and approved a victim’s bill of rights in 1982, but it wasn’t until 1990′s Proposition 115 that an initiative cut back severely on the procedural rights of criminal defendants. There followed a series of measures that fed on the cynical politics of crime. Voters expanded the range of offenses subject to the death penalty. In 1994, even after crime rates began their historic decline, voters adopted the three-strikes law. In 2000, they approved Proposition 21, a measure to revoke many of the state’s landmark protections for juvenile offenders as young as 14. In 2006, they turned their attention to sex offenders with Jessica’s Law, and in 2008, on the heels of a decade-long crime drop of 20%, they adopted a new victim’s bill of rights and virtually eliminated parole for many offenders with Marsy’s Law.

They finished with a link to the actual L.A. Times article.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-1111-tough-on-crime-20121110,0,4241285.story

But I’m sure you’d much rather see it in Prisonmovement’s Weblog.

http://prisonmovement.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/crime-and-punishment-in-california/

***

Here’s an amazing story by Massachusetts Newswire.

Joe Baker, a Tennessee inmate, has been incarcerated for 24+ years. With the help of his family, Joe has developed a website where offenders can apologize to their victims online in a non-intrusive way. In his quest to make amends for his crime, Joe created the website The Apology Project (www.theapologyproject.com) and continues to give back for his wrongdoing and encourages other inmates to do the same.

Offenders can post their apology on the website, and victims have the ability to read the apology and offer a response if they so choose.

This feels very much to me like the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commissionwhere the idea was atonement and forgiveness, not revenge and punishment. Obviously, this kind of thing is more symbolic than practical, but its definitely got some interesting potential. We’ve learned that tough on crime policies are ineffective – maybe something like this can offer a path to getting America off the #1 spot as the World’s jailer.

Joe is an inspiration in showing that inmates can change. They do not have to continue to be what they were once convicted of and continue to live a life of crime. He is proof that you can become part of the solution, instead of continuing to be part of the problem. Society should be interested in this, because it displays there can be true change in the world, no matter who you are or what your circumstance. That is what we ALL strive for, and we as a society, need to recognize that we must be proactive in the rehabilitation of inmates if we ever want to see true change.

http://massachusettsnewswire.com/2012/11/12/MNW5801_075603.php

***

And finally, in the strange bedfellows department, comes this from the WaPo.

Traditionally, prison reform has been a liberal issue, associated with civil rights activists troubled by the extreme racial disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system, and with drug decriminalization advocates who emphasize the high cost of drug prohibition. But without much notice, that picture has begun to change. These days, the right is leading the charge to reduce the U.S. prison population.

Yes, you read that right. The overstuffed prisons are becoming so problematic, that even the Religious Right sees the need for reform.

Instead, the change has come about due to an alliance between libertarians, who are as skeptical of the prison system as they are of all uses of state power, and religious conservatives. The latter group was brought into the fold because of two activists who served time in prison: Charles Colson, a former Nixon aide convicted for his role in Watergate, and Pat Nolan, a former Republican legislator in California who was put away on corruption charges.

The two headed up Prison Fellowship, an evangelical group that works with prisoners, and Nolan in particular ran its policy arm. In the mid to late 1990s, they began to put together a conservative coalition in support of reforms. It wasn’t long before big players like Grover Norquist and direct-mail magnate Richard Viguerie joined in the discussions.

Here – so you’ll know I’m not lying – is the link.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/11/13/the-conservative-push-for-prison-reform/?wprss=rss_ezra-klein&wpisrc=nl_wonk

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.

Stunning PowerPoint by Solitary Watch – Solitary 101

By BitcoDavid

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

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

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

 

How Prisoners Make Us Look Good – From the NYT

By BitcoDavid

Inmates at the state prison in San Quentin, Calif., in June.
Image: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/sunday-review/how-prisoners-make-data-look-good.html

I finally got a second to get a post up on here! I’ve been swamped, working on several upcoming projects, including the last video in the series of interviews with Felix Garcia by Jim Ridgeway and Pat Bliss, the PDF serialization of Felix’s story and an Idea Jim Ridgeway and I are hammering out together, which promises to be really exciting.

I saw this story in the New York Times about a week ago.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/sunday-review/how-prisoners-make-data-look-good.html

The author postulates that since prisoners aren’t counted by sociologists and statisticians when formulating the upward mobility and social status of ethnic groups – and that since almost 50% of U.S. inmates are Black – that Post Civil Rights Era Blacks are not doing as well as we may want to believe.

[C]orrections officials count actual prisoners, a captive audience; sociologists and census-takers typically undercount prisoners and former inmates living on the edge of society.

The real problem, as Dr. Pettit sees it, is that imprisoned black men aren’t figured into statistics about the standing of African-Americans. The consequence, she says, is an overstatement of black progress in education, employment, wages and voting participation.

In short, any social or ethnic group can be made to appear successful in statistics, if their prison population isn’t counted in the equation. When that population is re-added back into the mix, that particular group doesn’t fare so well.

Dr. Pettit discovered the following:

¶ Among male high school dropouts born between 1975 and 1979, 68 percent of blacks (compared with 28 percent of whites) had been imprisoned at some point by 2009, and 37 percent of blacks (compared with 12 percent of whites) were incarcerated that year.

¶ By the time they turn 18, one in four black children will have experienced the imprisonment of a parent.

¶ More young black dropouts are in prison or jail than have paying jobs. Black men are more likely to go to prison than to graduate with a four-year college degree or complete military service.

¶ Black dropouts are more likely to spend at least a year in prison than to get married.

+ Midyear 2009 Incarceration Rates by Race and...

Midyear 2009 Incarceration Rates by Race and Gender per 100,000 U.S. residents of the same race and gender. Prison Inmates at Midyear 2009 – Statistical Tables – US Bureau of Justice Statistics, published June 2010. See tables 16-19 for totals and rates for blacks, Hispanics, and whites. Broken down by year, gender, and age. See page 2 for “Selected characteristics of inmates held in custody in state or federal prisons or in local jails”. It has the overall incarceration rate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These figures are truly disheartening. We have written a lot on the School to Prison Pipeline, the inequity of Black inmates and the prevalence of Prison Gerrymandering, and these statistics clearly back up what we’ve been saying.

America is the world’s #1 jailer. Individual cities as well as private corporations have developed whole economies around the incarceration of Human beings. States like California and Florida are actually to the point where they can no longer afford to warehouse the massive numbers of people in their jails and prisons.

Questionably unconstitutional laws like mandatory sentencing and Three Strikes laws are forcing the Justice system into a similar situation to what happened in the Mental Health system in the 1980s – where it became so costly that President Reagan had no choice but to simply close them all down and turn the patients out in the streets.

But what stands out in this article, is that sociologists, the Census and other civil statisticians are using this immense prison population to jury-rig the numbers so as to make those of us who are fortunate enough to not be locked up, look like we’re doing better than we really are.

English: Aerial view of San Quentin State Pris...

Aerial view of San Quentin State Prison, in Marin County, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here, again, is the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/sunday-review/how-prisoners-make-data-look-good.html

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.

Proof of False Confession and DNA Testing Lead to Freeing of Innocent Death-Row Inmate in LA

I was hungry. All I wanted to do was sleep, and I was willing to tell them anything they wanted me to tell them if it would get me out of that interrogation room.

Constitutional Amendments 101

Constitutional Amendments 101 (Photo credit: Village Square)

This is was Damon Thibodeaux statement about his nine-hour interrogation on July 21, 1996 that resulted in his false confession to raping and killing his 14-year old step-cousin. He was set free last week after DNA testing proved this conviction wrong. The investigation also pointed to the police officers using tactics to get a false confession. For instance, Thibodeaux said that police threatened him with death by lethal injection and fed him facts about the crime scene that he added to his confession.

Interrogation

Interrogation (Photo credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis)

Thibodeaux spent 15 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. The Houston Chronicle reprinted a Washington Post article and quoting the reporter, “There was never any physical evidence connecting him to his cousin’s murder. But it took 15 years to reestablish that.” (Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, A4. “Deaf-row inmate freed thanks to DNA.”).

Police coercive tactics such as sleep deprivation, long hours of aggressive questioning, repetition of questions, setting up the suspect with facts from the case, making threats of death by lethal injection have been seen in other cases as well as Thibodeaux’s. This case and others point to the critical need for increased public awareness and vigilance to defend the Constitutional rights of suspects.

English: The Gas Chamber at New Mexico Peniten...

The Gas Chamber at New Mexico Penitentiary, Santa Fe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The School to Prison Pipeline Is Even Bigger for the Deaf

This is an article published in the New York Times. It states that children with disabilities are more likely to be suspended from school, than are non-disabled students. But, they didn’t need a study to prove this. They just needed to read DeafInPrison.com. We’re well familiar with both the school to prison pipeline, and the difficulties disabled students – in particular, the Deaf – are faced with. They are often disproportionately punished, in both schools and in adult life.

According to a new analysis of Department of Education data, 13 percent of disabled students in kindergarten through 12th grade were suspended during the 2009-10 school year, compared with 7 percent of students without disabilities. Among black children with disabilities, which included those with learning difficulties, the rate was much higher: one out of every four was suspended at least once that school year.

Want to read more? Here’s the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/08/education/analysis-examines-disabled-students-suspensions.html?nl=todaysheadlines&adxnnl=1&emc=tha23_20120808&adxnnlx=1344434486-xodqHeoT4VfB4e3f4d4s1g

Too Many Prisoners – From Prisonmovement’s Weblog

Image courtesy of Prisonmovement’s Weblog

This is a reblog of an article that appeared in Prisonmovement’s Weblog, over the weekend. For those of you not familiar with them, here’s what they say about themselves:

Against the death penalty; the United States Criminal Justice System is flawed, broken, yet fixable; Prison Reform and Sentencing Reform should be major agenda’s for each state- we need to stop warehousing prisoners and ready those who are going to parole.
Inmate rehabilitation improves public safety and lowers prison costs.
“We have to care because we can’t afford not to”.

DeafInPrison.com loves Prisonmovement’s Weblog, and we hope you enjoy this post.

Here’s the link.

http://prisonmovement.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/too-many-prisoners/

 

 

Inmate Responds to One of Our Posts

In May, I did a post on the differences between county jails and prisons from the paralegal perspective. Here’s the link to that post.

County Jails vs. Prisons

I’ve added it here, to help provide some perspective.

A few days ago, I received this response from a former inmate.

As usual, if you have trouble making out the text in this image, simply double click on it to view it in full screen.

July at DeafInPrison.com

Here’s the monthly update for July. It’s been a busy but rewarding month, and I hope you enjoy this roundup. Click on the link below, to open the PDF file.

July at DeafInPrison

Crossover Youth – Reblogged from CrimeDime.com

bitcodavid:

Anybody who’s on this site will agree that this article applies to the Deaf inmate, just as it does to the youth offender. My thanks – as usual – to CrimeDime.com for doing a wonderful job in exposing this issue.

Originally posted on CrimeDime:

A real commitment to improving the juvenile system requires “assessment” centers like this one to truly assess young offenders for past victimization rather than routinized criminal justice processing. Image: CrimeDime

Plenty of research has established the link between victimization and offending. But establishing the fact that the link exists is easier than understanding why it happens. Even harder? Figuring out what to do about it.

Bethany Case, a visiting fellow at the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), suggests some approaches in the June 2012 OVC News & Program Updatesnewsletter.

  • Early identification of child victims provides a mechanism to intervene with families and children, particularly when there is risk of continued victimization.
  • Accurate identification of adolescent victimization, particularly when youth enter the juvenile justice system, can ensure that adolescents get resources to address the victimization that may be the root cause of the offending.
  • Comprehensive interventions address the…

View original 341 more words

Sexual Victimization Reported by Former State Prisoners, 2008

svrfsp08.pdf (application/pdf Object).

bitcodavid:

Due to the correlation between Deaf inmates and mentally ill inmates, I felt this excellent article from PrisonMovement’s Weblog was appropriate to share with our readers.

–BitcoDavid

Originally posted on Prisonmovement's Weblog:

Solitary confinement

Solitary confinement (Photo credit: Chris.Gray)

By REMA RAHMAN, Associated Press

Troy Anderson is a mentally ill inmate in isolation at the Colorado State Penitentiary, deemed for more than a decade too dangerous to be among other offenders.

His lawyers argue, however, that prolonged solitary confinement is contributing to a vicious cycle, making his psychiatric conditions worse and resulting in misbehavior that warrants further punishment.

Prison officials defend the practice, saying administrative segregation, which can include up to 23 hours a day alone in a concrete cell, is a fundamental part of security.

Art Leonardo, executive director of the North American Association of Wardens and Superintendents, says keeping prisoners away from the general population is a way to “keep them from being harmed.”

But prisoners’ rights advocates around the nation say putting mentally ill inmates in long-term solitary confinement amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. In some states, activists…

View original 550 more words

A Follow-up to My Last Inmate Letter

[I received another letter from the deaf inmate in CA in response to my letter. His first letter is shown below and/or under inmate letters tab. I have typed pertinent parts, and in clearer understanding, as most of it is a repeat of his first letter but I believe it shows what a little kindness can do for an inmate who has had no contact with society in his 25 years of incarceration. He still wishes to remain anonymous due to fears of retribution and harm but if you, the reader, would like to pass on a word of encouragement to give him hope, please leave a comment and I will print it and send it to him. This also applies to all the letters I have received that have been passed on to BitcoDavid.

--Pat]

_______________________________

4-2-2012                                                                                                                                                                                 ******* **** ******

*******-Lower

***** ****** ****

******. CA *****

Dear Ms. Pat Bliss,

After all these years with no contact or communication, your letter was pure joy. I wrote the attorney lady address that you sent me, I took the time and explained all these years of incarceration of abuse and rapes: who – what – when. But because officers read our mail, unless it is legal mail, I ask Ms. Attorney *** to inform you of my condition and circumstances. I fear for my life constantly from officers and inmates which the officers use against other inmates….

I’ve live in loneliness, no love and a broken heart for 55 years. Ms. Pat…there are 2 laws and rules: black and white, the officers urge racism and hate and violence…if you get this letter I’m telling you I don’t want to die in prison…from birth till this day, my life has been lonely and empty and for 25 years hell but thanks to you, you have given me a small light of hope.

But at my age I wonder who would want to deal with a black, deaf, inmate even out in the world? I’m emotionally damaged and scared of people.

I’m so low emotionally, I don’t expect anything, no happiness. I have never loved or never had love, no compassion, no togetherness, no family, no friends and now I’m completely deaf. Pray for me and may God Bless you. Thanks. ****** *******.

____________________________________

[For the public’s information, I have the ball rolling to try to get this man help. Since mail takes so long, I have no other feedback to share at this time.]

The Addition of “Bliss -2″

Since this site was launched, I’ve been writing – on my page – about the tragic story of Felix Garcia. This innocent Deaf man has been behind bars for some 30 years now, for a crime he didn’t commit.

Due to the fact that I’m writing this story in chapters, and it’s becoming quite long, David has given me an extra page. You can find the newest additions to the story by looking in the right hand column, on the home page scroll, and clicking on “Bliss-2

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