A Word on Police Militarization

By BitcoDavid

On May 18th, President Obama signed an Executive Order, effectively banning the transfer of military equipment by the Federal government, to community police departments.

This is a step in the right direction, and will help to end what has become nothing short of a war between the police, and the communities they are sworn to protect and serve.

But during the past week, I have learned something. I know that police militarization is a problem – and it’s one we’ve discussed before on DeafInPrison.com. I also know that the number of shooting incidents involving police on citizens – and police on dogs – has increased exponentially over the past 40 years. Furthermore, these incidents are overwhelmingly racially skewed. Of the total number of civilians shot by police since the year 2000, 75% have been Black.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

None of this is news. Simply open a browser, and you’ll be treated to a smorgasbord of carnage and death – almost entirely White police officers on Black civilians.

In many cases, the officers are justified. In others they’re not. But what stands out – regardless of color or race – is the huge number of violent attacks and counterattacks on mentally ill citizens. And this is where I had my epiphany.

The root of the problem is far simpler than the media, or law enforcement itself, would lead us to believe. In the 1980s, President Reagan closed all the federal and state funded mental hospitals. This caused a river of drug addicts, abuse victims, disabled vets, homeless and other mentally ill – with no place to go but the streets. The burden of their care – or at the very least, handling – was shifted from Social Services, to the police.

But police are not trained, or even capable of handling this new responsibility. In the eyes of a cop, you’re either an innocent or a perpetrator. There’s no middle ground, and there are no policies in place for how to deal with any of the other possibilities. Police have one basic skill, and it’s a difficult skill to master – and one that deserves respect. They know how to arrest people. They don’t know how to counsel people. They don’t know how to determine if someone is mentally ill. They don’t know what to do with someone who is. In my years interacting with cops, I’ve seen them do things I never thought possible. I’ve seen a single cop insert himself into a gang rivalry, and prevent a war. I’ve seen cops rescue children from abusive parents. I’ve seen cops rescue animals from abusive owners. But I’ve never seen a cop help a bag lady get her stolen shopping cart back.

In our rush to austerity, we’ve tasked our police forces with the job of handling every social disorder and societal problem, that we’re too cheap to pay for, and they’ve responded the only way they know how – with nightsticks and bullets. Then, we armed them like the Green Berets.

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

So the fix? Well, it ain’t gonna come cheap. We need to allocate sufficient funds to rebuild the Social Services department, and we need to make a commitment to helping our weakest and most infirm citizens. We need to start taking conditions like PTSD seriously, and make treatment – and even hospitalization – free and readily available. We need to find ways to get our homeless off the streets. We need to end the useless War on Drugs, and develop policies that will help addicts get treatment – not jail.

And, while we obviously can’t disarm our police forces, we need to stop arming them like they’re going to war in Afghanistan – and above all, let them get back to the job they’re supposed to be doing. Protecting us from those who would knowingly violate the social contract. A job they do with handcuffs – not machine guns and street-tanks.

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

Felix Case – Some Important Links

By BitcoDavid

Here’s the link to Fox 13 Tampa Bay’s video. It’s a surprisingly accurate and well made piece, and tells Felix’s whole story. Well worth watching.

http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/29033415/after-30-years-advocates-seek-new-trial-for-deaf-man#.VVIQvxy0EhQ.facebook

You can see their FaceBook page here. Check out the comments on Felix’s video.

https://www.facebook.com/FOX13TampaBay/videos/vb.159207208524/10152912739548525/

And lastly, here’s a link to Felix’s original testimony, in PDF format.

http://content.foxtvmedia.com/wtvt/html/misc/Garcia-testimony.pdf

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.

Change! Fox News Program about Felix

By Pat Bliss

To All Felix’s Supporters:

I had previously stated that FOX News is doing a short segment on Felix’s case at 10 pm May 14th. It has been upped to May 11th at 10pm.

This will be aired again and be tied in with a special on the criminal justice system coming up later by Craig Patrick of FOX. That program will air in prime time. This current segment on Felix will be shown live in FOX owned stations in 17 major cities around the country that night. Those of us who do not live near a big city can view it online after it is aired at: www.mytampabay.com/story/case-of-felix-garcia . This may work as I tried to determine via other news stories listed on its home page, but it should get you there and look for a list of news stories with Felix’s name. The call letters are FOX13 WTVT-TV. Tampa Bay, FL.  If I find out a more precise web address I will try to pass it on but wanted to be sure you all saw the change in date.   As you know this is shown in furthering our quest for Felix’s freedom. Thank you all so much. Pat

Here is one of the promos being shown to advertise the story on Felix.  Press the play button/arrow in the lower left of the video screen.

https://vimeo.com/127325386

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.

Castaways: A Documentary

By BitcoDavid

I got this video from Littlethings.com via Facebook. I had to go through some machinations in order to convert it to a format you could see embedded on DeafInPrison.com.  I’ve linked to the original. We’re not about stealing anything here, and generally we only publish our own original content, but this is a subject very much near and dear to my heart. If I didn’t think this was as important as it is, I wouldn’t have gone to this much effort.

All the same, a full fledged double++ thank you to Littlethings.com for allowing us – after the fact – to use it.

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.

A Victimless Crime?

By Supporter Contributor Matthew Gilbert

A few days ago, I saw a post by someone who was grieving for a loved one lost to drug overdose. They made the point that there are victims to drug use. I was not about to argue with a grieving person and I am not now going to. How could I? Nothing you do in this life, won’t affect other people and things. They say butterflies beating their wings in China cause earthquakes here.

Many hearts get broken over drug use. This is a sad fact of life. I’ve also had my heart broken by women I loved, and they’re walking around free as birds. My parents divorce affected me deeply. Divorce is legal, however. If you have someone in your life – on drugs – I’m sure you would rather see them in treatment than in jail. In jail they get no treatment and statistically, come out worse than when they went in.

It’s easy to say, blame the dealer, but that argument won’t get you far in court. Besides, someone deals to the dealer, and so on up the ladder, ’till you get to the people who are rich enough to avoid prosecution. As long as there is a demand, there will be someone willing to risk all by filling that demand. So it comes back to getting the user off drugs. Many users are afraid to come forward for fear of prosecution. If you are on probation for any crime, you are legally forbidden to use drugs, and they always have access to your doctor as a condition of probation. You can also lose your job, your children, your house, etc, as a direct legal consequence of admitting to drug use.

An out of control user will likely lose these things eventually anyway, which is why we want them in treatment. I say out of control drug user because the majority of the population can be prescribed – or simply use – drugs occasionally, without succumbing to addiction. Only about 12% of the population, is prone to become addicted. That’s a book in itself, so, I’ll close by reminding my readers, that countries like Portugal have decriminalized drug use. They have seen their rates of addiction, overdose, and drug related crimes, drastically reduced from what they were when they punished people for addiction. Addiction is legally defined as a disease in the USA. People should not be prosecuted, or persecuted for being sick. They should be helped.

Matthew Gilbert is a guitarist and music teacher in the Boston area. He has spent years struggling with drug abuse and addiction issues, and has written numerous articles on methadone maintenance programs. His perspective on the War on Drugs comes from on-the-street experience.

Appropriate Treatment For Deaf Sex Offenders

By Jean F. Andrews

English: President George H. W. Bush signs the...

English: President George H. W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 into law. Pictured (left to right): Evan Kemp, Rev Harold Wilke, Pres. Bush, Sandra Parrino, Justin Dart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sexual predation is considered to be a heinous crime rather than a disease. In a paper written by Dr. McCay Vernon – the late psychologist who specialized in mental health issues and deaf persons –  pedophilia is a “a curse,” because crimes by sexual molesters arouse so much public anger, and sex offenders often receive severe sentences by judges, juries and the public.

The curse extends beyond public outcry.

Sign, Wapello, Iowa. This was put up in reacti...

Sign, Wapello, Iowa. This was put up in reaction to Megan’s Law. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When a sex offender who is deaf, is sentenced to prison, the programs that prisons offer are often not accessible to them. Prison officials commonly – and wrongly – believe, that providing a sign language interpreter, thus an equivalency of the message will suffice.  Not so. Many deaf sex offenders do not understand the psychological vocabulary that is used in these lectures.  Further, they cannot read the materials.  Many Deaf adult criminal offenders are reading at the second grade level or below, have histories of physical, and emotional abuse, and may have cognitive disabilities as well. They are unable to grasp the concepts in these sessions, or learn how to process the stages in order to gain awareness of their disease.  The textbooks, workbooks and other written materials are often written at the 7th grade or higher, so they cannot read the materials. Further, writing their autobiography and describing the triggers that make them act out sexually with children, require higher skills in English-writing than many of these deaf adults have. The result is a mismatch between the program goals and the literacy abilities of the sex offender.

Baltimore Sun

Dr. McCay Vernon. Image courtesy Baltimore Sun.

What’s more, They also have difficulty interacting with hearing sex offenders, during community activities outside of the classroom.

Their struggles continue upon release.

The deaf sex offender faces insurmountable obstacles to being released into the community, because they have been disowned by family, Deaf friends and the Deaf community.  Even the church and other social organizations are afraid of sponsoring them, or providing them assistance, because of liability issues. Finding a job or a place to live is virtually impossible, because of lack of training and harsh laws that prevent them from living near schools or neighborhoods with young children.

There is a need for specialized programs to be set up for the Deaf sex offender, that are accessible to them. There are professionals in mental health counseling, and deaf education, who can conduct this kind of training.  They have preparation in mental health issues and treatment, related to deaf persons. Furthermore, They are skilled in ASL/English bilingual methods, and visual ways of learning, for the deaf.

How to get these programs into prisons, for deaf offenders, is the challenge we face.  With more Deaf persons becoming knowledgeable of the legal rights and protections provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which mandates equal access to services in prisons, these kinds of prison-appropriate and accessible treatment programs may become a reality.

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

Outcasts and Angels: Stories featuring the Deaf

By BitcoDavid

Nadine Gordimer and David Grossman

Nadine Gordimer and David Grossman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As many of you know, for about the past 3 weeks, I’ve been working to translate and caption the video “What is ASL?” by Deaf activist and Signing whiz, Lilcoco Love. But she’s a native Signer, and I’m… well… I’m me. It’s an awesome video, and she’s got a lot to say. About ASL, Deaf culture, and the belief by some English speakers and even some Deaf, that ASL hampers English and reading development. We’re friends on FaceBook now, and I’m hoping that not only can I get her help with the video, but perhaps I can get her to write a piece for us, or even to record a new video. I’ll keep you posted, either way.

In the meantime, there’s this:

I originally posted this on ASL Learners by DeafInPrison.com – our FaceBook group – and received some interesting comments. my comment was about how the girl in the video, sits down with an ASL book, spends one night in the diner, studying it – and is a Signing genius the following night. In my post, I said that I’ve been struggling with immersion level learning, for at least 2 years now, and I’m not as good as this girl, after a night of cramming. I go on to say, that I thought I’d have this knocked out in about 6 months, and my tutor, Randy Tweedie, tells me that I’m still looking at about 4 more years to become conversational.

ASL in family

ASL in family (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Again, let me stress that ASL is a language, and just as you wouldn’t attempt to learn German, or Japanese – from a book, overnight – nor can you learn ASL that way. Furthermore, since ASL is not a spoken or written language, it’s actually even harder for 2nd language users to learn.

But, I’m a cynic.

On the other hand, I also received a comment that really hit home. This commenter simply asked, “Why doesn’t the Deaf kid ever save the Hearing kid?”

Really. Why are there so few strong Deaf leads in literature and film? Well, there are. You just need to know where to look for them. Enter “Outcasts and Angels – The New Anthology of Deaf Characters in Literature. This book, edited by Edna Edith Sayers, features short stories written around Deaf characters. And best of all, our publisher, Joanne Greenberg has 2 entries. She’s joined by such names as Ambrose Bierce, Isak Dinesen, Nadine Gordimer, Flannery O’Connor, Juozas Grušas and Julian Barnes.

It is available through Amazon, or from Gallaudet Press.

But wait. There’s more. For those of you who follow us on FaceBook, you might get a kick out of Jack’s new page. That’s right. Everybody’s favorite Internet Rock star and Dog-about-Town – Jack – now has his very own FaceBook page. There’ll be no living with him now.

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

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