The Making of “Felix in His Own Words”

The idea to do an interview and a film started back in October 2010.  Conflicting schedules, Felix being moved within the system, postponed it until June of 2011. With Florida Department of Corrections giving us media approval, Washington Correspondent for Mother Jones Magazine, James Ridgeway, and I met at the Jacksonville, Florida airport where I picked him up. I had driven down. We drove to the town of Monticello where Jefferson Correctional Institution is located. DOC policy has it that inmate media interviews are only given one hour per month. We arranged it so that we could maximize our time by arranging to have the interviews on the last day of June and the first day of July.

Our appointment was at 9:00 A.M. June 30, 2011. Jim, armed with his video camera equipment (might add a very small camera) and myself with pad and pens, we were greeted warmly and escorted to the Assistant Warden’s office to do the interview. We saw Felix in the hallway as we went in and were seated at the Assistant Warden’s desk. Jim set up his equipment, Felix was brought in and sat across from us. The door was closed but we still could hear noise in the hallway and possibly they could hear us. I introduced Felix to Jim. There was excitement in the air even thought Felix had a look of confusion until I explained what we were going to do. I do not sign, he reads my lips very well as we have been together now for over 15 years in court and in prison visits.

 

This is a drawing done by Felix, showing his view of the courtroom during his trial. Image courtesy Pat Bliss. This image will be republished on Bliss-2 along with the most recent chapter in the ongoing series.

The tape began to roll. There was some unfinished business that had to come out. Felix was raped and almost successfully completed a suicide within that last six months. He had not had the opportunity (according to his letters) to express his emotions to any person. No counselors available for the Deaf. He was not around other Deaf that he could call a friend, just like in the hearing world it takes time to confide in another person. Also, it can spell disaster to the inmate when certain inmates know one has been raped and they become a target. So Felix kept quiet – until now. When he started talking, he first was hesitant but I encouraged Felix to tell it all and get it out. Hence, this is what you, the viewer, are witnessing when you start watching this video.

Juveniles in Prison

From The New York Times:

Justices Bar Mandatory Life Terms for Juveniles.

The justices ruled that such sentencing for those under 18 violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

http://nyti.ms/LvYcun

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