Inmate Speaks Out on Prison-Dog Program

By BitcoDavid

Image courtesy the Internet sensation, Jack Greenberg.

An attorney who has written for us in the past, informed me that he recently acquired a canine graduate of the prison-dog program in his home state. He tells me that he couldn’t be happier with the dog, who’s well  behaved and well mannered. Further, he relayed to me that not only was there no evidence to his knowledge, that animals are ill-treated or abused, but in fact, he found the entire program to be stringent and scrupulously managed.

It has long been the policy and perspective of to vehemently support these programs. We believe that these programs save the lives of innumerable unwanted dogs, and likewise the psychological, emotional and social benefit to countless unwanted and forgotten humans, is incomparably profound. These programs show results that border on the phenomenal – helping both dogs and inmates.

All that being said, an inmate who has been in mail communication with our author, Pat Bliss, for over a decade, sent me a letter, describing his near 3 and 1/2 years in a prison dog program.

Before I continue in relaying the contents of that letter, I need to advise my readers of the following caveats:

  1.  This is anecdotal evidence. I don’t doubt for a second the man’s credibility. However, we need to remember that none of this information can be – or has been – corroborated.
  2. Even if true, this is one man’s experience, in one state’s program, and in one unique institution. Right or wrong, this article cannot speak for all the prison-dog programs throughout the U.S.
  3. As has always been the case with inmate letters to, there will be no use of proper names, locations, inmate numbers, or any information that may compromise the individual’s safety or anonymity. This of course makes verification and validation even more difficult, but it is necessary to prevent any harm befalling our sources.
  4. The following is a tough read, especially if you’re a dog lover. Portions of this article may seem egregious and offensive. If you’re particularly sensitive to dog issues, you may not want to continue reading.

BitcoDavid needed some dog pix for this article. Being the camera-whore I am, I volunteered. — Jack

The letter opens with a greeting, followed by the dates he served in the program – 2012 to 2015. He goes on to describe the outside trainers – individuals responsible for evaluating dogs for the program. Generally, these people will go to given shelters and obtain non-adoptable animals. These animals are vetted, and cared for by these trainers until a slot opens up in one of the facilities. The trainers then provide support and education for the inmates. This inmate, in his letter stated that these trainers’ personal hygiene was terrible, and that the dogs that came from their rescue were filthy, smelly and never brushed or bathed. He said that he’s seen dogs come into the program with parasites and skin conditions – the kind of thing that comes from their living area being dirty. Typically, the first thing the inmates do with their new charges, is to bathe them.

Here's me, after a bath. Maybe a little humiliated, but lookin' good. JG

Here’s me, after a bath. Maybe a little humiliated, but lookin’ good. JG

The inmate believes that this problem can – and should – be addressed with unannounced and surprise inspections.

Who wouldn't wanna give a dog a bath?

Who wouldn’t wanna give a dog a bath?

A television news source in the area in question, confirms that inmates in the program are first fully screened psychologically. The inmate claims that fact is untrue. He states that he himself was let into the program, and no such screening ever occurred. He goes on to say, that likewise sexual offenders are not allowed in the program. This too, is an untruth. He named, several sex offenders who were working in the program during his tenure. He provided me with not only the names of these individuals, but their inmate numbers. Obviously, I am not going to publish that information, but it certainly adds to the veracity of his missive.

He cites occasions when he witnessed inmates inserting fingers into female canine genitalia, and even using the animals for oral sex.

1st day in my forever home - Aug. 2009

1st day in my forever home – Aug. 2009

His last dog in the program, before he quit, came to him with an ear infection. He spent 8 months dealing with facility officials and medical staff, trying to obtain treatment for the dog. When medicine was finally issued to him, it was either too small a dose, or expired. some of the medicines he received were actually as much as 5 years expired. The dog of course, got worse. What struck this individual even more-so than the neglect itself, was the nonchalance amongst those whose job it was to provide him with support.

He finally managed to get word to the state’s animal services department. They sent 2 agents, who interviewed the staff of the facility, and the outside trainers. A week later, the trainers came and took the dog. The trainers were then told by a program administrator, to get the inmate out of the program for contacting an outside agency. the trainers lied to animal services, and failed to follow up on their recommendations regarding the dog. Instead they sent the dog to another county, outside of the agency’s jurisdiction.

BitcoDavid calls this one,

BitcoDavid calls this one, “Puppy Energy.” I kinda like this one.

He continues in his letter, by telling me of an individual who has a German Shepherd. He has told other program members that if their dogs become aggressive or non-social, he would put the dog in with the Shepherd, to “get his ass kicked.” I have no indication if this has actually occurred, but I would certainly be leery of putting a dog in this person’s care, whether this is joking or not.

The dorms where the dogs are housed, with their inmates, are scarcely populated – often less than a dozen pairs. Therefore, little or no supervision exists. According to the letter, inmates who are unsuited or uninterested will apply for the program, to afford this unsupervised lifestyle. This results in drug use and sex occurring constantly in these dorms.

An individual was seen actually beating some of the dogs, and this individual was called down for the behavior, but staff did nothing. When the other inmates questioned him as to why no punishment, he said that he had too much pull to be removed from the program.

This shot here is from an old blog called

This shot here is from an old blog called “Nu30.” Love me some Greenies.

The inmate has written letters to the corporate program sponsor – who will also go unnamed in this article – but says that he gets his letters returned unopened.

He lists numerous abuses – dogs being kicked in the mouth, dogs being smashed against steel poles or concrete walls, and dogs being physically thrown through the air – all incidents were reported, and there has been no action taken, or even any acknowledgement that a report was received.

In closing, I have no difficulty believing everything he stated in his letter. However, I still have nothing but faith in these programs. While it may be true that abuses exist, and that more conscientious monitoring may be required, I can’t imagine any two groups within our society who are better suited to help each other survive – and thrive – than prison inmates and rescue dogs.

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.

ICED and Interpreters

By Jean F. Andrews

Surrounded by the Acropolis and other stunning Greek monuments, the International Congress on the Education of the Deaf held their 22nd annual conference, titled Educating Diverse Learners; Many Ways, One Goal, on July 6 to July 9, 2015. It was the stage for more than 700 researchers. It was a revitalizing intellectual experience, only to be rounded out – post-conference – with invigorating swims in the salty, green Aegean.

Contour map of the Aegean, with names

Contour map of the Aegean, with names (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although the informational load was overwhelming, it was an expansive learning experience. The ICED planners provided a well-thought out research agenda, the conference was organized, the hotel was comfortable and the staff were friendly and helpful.

While coaching a former student in the hotel lobby for her later presentation, I noticed a group of 30 to 40 deaf persons. They were angry over the fact that there were not enough interpreters present. Some were even told they should have brought their own interpreters.

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

President George H. W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 into law. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to Deaf colleagues, such a large Deaf attendance was not anticipated by the ICED planners. And while they had the Herculean task of providing interpretations in international sign (Gestuno) as well as other sign languages from around the world – a most difficult challenge, both economically and pragmatically – still, many Deaf persons were left out of sessions because there were no interpreters. The Deaf scholars had no choice but to use self-advocacy and complain. And the ICED staff responded by soliciting volunteer interpreters during the conference.

Even so, the lack of interpreters has no place at a deaf education conference, regional, national or international. In the U.S., public health and correctional agencies, and even educational institutions, are being whacked with hefty fines for not complying with the ADA, by providing accessible and effective communication, which often includes the use of sign language interpreters.

Preventive action is needed both nationally and internationally. One solution is for conference planners to have a Deaf person introduce every hearing presenter and have a hearing person introduce every Deaf presenter. With both a Deaf and hearing person on center stage for every presentation, this would assist the conference planners in making sure that equal access is provided with sign language interpreters. This would also ensure that every Deaf and hearing researchers’ findings would fall on “Deaf and hearing eyes” and “Deaf and hearing ears.” Expensive, yes, but it is priority #1 if we are to continue to advance in deaf education.

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

This Post Could Save Your Life

By BitcoDavid

Driver in a Mitsubishi Galant using a hand hel...

Driver in a Mitsubishi Galant using a hand held mobile phone violating New York State law. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was reading an article the other day, about a woman who had a seizure while her helper-dog was distracted by a stranger petting him. It occurred to me, reading this, that there were lessons we learned, growing up, that don’t appear to be taught anymore. Everybody my age or older knows not to pet working aid-dogs, but apparently, this lesson isn’t taught by parents anymore.

We were taught the proper protocol for petting any strange dog. First, you ask the master if it’s OK. Then you allow the dog to sniff your backhand, and when his tail wags, it’s safe to pet. Kids come running up on Jack, all the time – and I am in constant fear for the day he takes a chunk out of one.

X-Cops (The X-Files)

X-Cops (The X-Files) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another lesson we learned, growing up, was how to deal with cops. I see the cell-phone videos of police shootings or beatings, and although the victim may in fact be in the right, he almost always handles the situation wrong.

Here’s the thing. What cops can legally do, and what they do, are two different things. If you’re in a car – at a traffic stop – follow this protocol.

  1. Turn off all radios, cell-phones, teevees or other electronic gadgets. Give the cop your full attention. Turn the car off. Also, you need to pull over as quickly as possible, upon him turning on the blues. Cops have told me they actually count the seconds you keep driving with them behind you. Every second counts against you.
  2. It used to be, have your license and registration ready when he gets to your window. Nowadays, you wait until he comes to the window, and you ask him, “Sir, may I remove my seatbelt to get my license and registration from my wallet?”
  3. Be respectful. Even if you don’t mean it. At the very minimum, nobody can ruin your day better than a cop. At the worst, you’ll be a YouTube video, and that will be the story of you.
  4. You have the Constitutional right to shut the fuck up. Use it. (See rule 3). Answer all questions directly and honestly, and if he doesn’t ask you anything – don’t say anything. The fact is, no matter what you’ve been told, from the minute he stops your car – he’s the boss. He was raised in the military and he hates his job. He has no friends that aren’t cops, and he doesn’t want you for one. Every word out of your mouth is another shovelful on your grave.
  5. Number 4 is your only Constitutional right. If you have a problem with how it all went down, hire a lawyer after the fact. During the interaction – just do what he says, no matter what that is.
  6. Under no circumstances should you get out of the car. They see that as a threat. I know, back in the day the Abbie Hoffman types used to tell us that if you’re out of the car, they can’t search it. That’s bull. They can – and will – do whatever they want. Stay in the car, and stay alive.
Abbie Hoffman visiting the University of Oklah...

Abbie Hoffman visiting the University of Oklahoma to protest the Vietnam War (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The important thing is to keep the situation from escalating. A pot bust beats a face full of pepper spray – and a pot bust. Most cops will be alright to you, if they think you’re alright to them. Start mouthing off about the Constitution, or how your uncle is a Lieutenant in the detectives, and we’ll be reading about you on Twitter.

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.

Jack’s annual Independence Day Plea

100_0255By Supporter Contributor Jack

A common drug user. That’s right. That’s what I’ve become, and it’s all your fault. See, I get afraid of some things. Especially fireworks. I hear them, but I don’t know what they are. I get all kinds of scared. I shake – I shiver – I try and hide under things that are too small for me. It’s tragic I tells ya. A proud Lab/Chow reduced to a quivering bowl of Jello. And not the good kind of Jello, either.

Now my dad – BitcoDavid – has long worked against the pharmaceutical industry. He says there are some good drugs that really help sick people, but he’s against using drugs that alter brain chemistry. Antidepressants, tranquilizers, anti-psychotics and phenothiazines.  He tells me he also doesn’t like Statins and imunosuppressants, but that’s something I don’t understand. See, he knows about this stuff. My area of expertise is bacon. I can give you chapter and verse on bacon.

What kind of self respecting Dog-author wouldn’t include a bacon pic? Mmmm, bacon…

Well, last year he took me to the smelly place where the White-Jacket-people live. There was all kinds of poking and prodding, and the White-Jacket-people shook their heads and looked at me like I was a schmoe. They rubbed their chins and gave me sad-eyes. Finally, they gave my dad a bottle of Lorazepam. Now, on the 3rd, 4th and even 5th of July, I’m bouncing off the walls and drooling in my kibble.

I got nothing against people going to their town’s designated area and watching a great show, put on by professional pyrotechnic engineers. But you guys gotta stop buying illegal fireworks in New Hampshire, and shooting them off in your back yard – maybe only a few hundred feet from my soft bed – at three in the morning.

It’s illegal, it’s a fire hazard, a safety hazard to you and your kids, and it scares the holy hell out of us, your furry besties.

I thank you for giving me this time, and trying to understand this issue from my point of view.


PS: David told me to tell you that he’s got some good articles in the pipe, and he hasn’t forsaken (good word, huh?) you. He’s working on writing a novel. Can you believe that? My dad the novelist. Kinda brings a tear to the eye, don’t it?

Jack Greenberg was born in 2009, someplace in Georgia. He was educated at PetSmart and received and honorary Milkbone from the trainer. He has written numerous Internet posts and has a page on Facebook.


Amy Elkins Parting Words Exhibit

By Jean F. Andrews

A Photography Exhibition by Amy Elkins at the Houston Center for Photography, May 8th to July 5, 2015

Hello!, 8×10 inches. Ballpoint pen drawing on paper, folded into a card- sent from a then 33 year old man who has been in prison since the age of 13. He has been primarily in solitary confinement since the age of 16.

Amy Elkins, photographer examines capital punishment and solitary confinement through her powerful, haunting and evocative exhibition. For many years, Ms. Elkins had a personal relationship with many inmates on death row through letter writing. She used their last recorded words in her visual collection of photography and drawings. The exhibition includes collages of letter envelopes from inmates, a photograph image of the sky constructed out of an inmate’s description in which he was allowed to see the clouds and sky through a metal grated skylight in the small exercise room he was permitted to use only one hour per day out of his 23 hours in solitary confinement, a Christmas card from death row, a drawing by one inmate of his cell, a drawing of a handmade jump rope made from torn and braided bed sheets, a photograph of a metal food tray and poetry and drawing made by inmates that she corresponded with.

Amy Elkins (Los Angeles, CA) Ronald O’Bryan, Execution #3, Age 39, From the series Parting Words, 8.5×9.85 inches, Laser print, Courtesy of Artist and Yancey Gallery (New York, NY)

This photography exhibition can be partially viewed on line

Return to Sender – “Deceased”, 8x10inches. Mail returned from Mississippi State Penitentiary

Ms. Elkins brilliantly captures the cruelty and inhumanity of solitary confinement and capital punishment in her art work of photography, drawings and words.  Ms. Elkins’ exhibition is both aesthetically pleasing and educational as it provides sidebars of statistical information on capital punishment in the U.S.

[Editor’s Note: The original title for this post was the title of the exhibit, which is “Black is the Day, Black is the Night & Parting Words.” I changed that title for brevity. Also, Dr. Andrews informs me that she is officially retired now, and will now be able to post more often. We look forward to more of her excellent work.

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

More on Si5S

By BitcoDavid

This character is manually expressed by the image on the front cover of the book. Image: (edited for size and color by BitcoDavid)

A few months ago, we did a piece on Si5S, a written form of ASL. Si5S deserves your attention because it nullifies the argument that ASL isn’t a language due to the fact that it has no written form. But its relevance goes beyond that. For one thing, it can help non-Signers learn the language. Because this isn’t a hieroglyphic writing system – but rather a method for notating actual signs – ASL students can use it as a mnemonic aid for learning physical signs. In fact, an essential part of learning your first language – be it English, or whatever – was your learning to read and write. You had some limited speaking skills from as early as about 2-years of age, but you didn’t become conversational in your native language, until you could read.

A segment of the several-hundred-odd characters are intentionally left handed. If the writer signs with his left hand dominant, he would use these characters rather than their right-handed counterparts. The reader would know that the writer is left-handed.

I recently acquired the official Si5S textbook, by the system’s creative team, Robert Arnold Augustus, Elsie Ritchie and Suzanne Stecker and edited by Elisa Abenchuchan Vita. I have only skimmed through it in the past few hours, but I’m beginning to understand it much better than I did when I wrote the original piece.

This is not fingerspelling, although all 26 fingerspelling characters are represented. It is also not – as I said above – a hieroglyphic representational writing system. The characters don’t represent things, like trees or bridges. They represent signs.

Notice the upper left character in the above graphic. On top, you see the hand as it would look, being viewed by someone looking at a signer. On the bottom, you see the Si5S character for that handshape. The character is reversed, because Si5S is written from the writer’s perspective. The symbols represent what the actual signer is seeing. The character’s foundation is something that looks somewhat like a musical half note. That represents the thumb contacting the finger tips in a O-hand posture. The staff of the half note represents the index finger – sticking up. The smaller vertical mark represents the pinky finger. Finally, the little dash inside the circle represents the thumb – folded over. If that dash were sticking out to the left, this would be the written form of the sign for “I love you.”

But those are static images. Si5S includes diacritical marks to show movement, location and direction. The sign for “tell you” is a different sign from the one for “you tell me.” Similarly, the characters for those signs reflect that difference.

Above is a graphic that shows the stationary views of the potential poses for the basic open palm. Each alteration to the primary U-shape shows the position of the fingers. In a writing environment, these symbols would be accompanied with more marks to indicate the other parameters of an ASL sign.

As I said, the book contains a massive number of characters – far more than English writing. Each character represents a movement or a handshape as used in signed ASL.

Si5S is a game-changer. This brilliant system could not only change the lives of native ASL signers, but could change the way hearing people learn sign.

You can learn more here, here or here

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.

Fox 13 Tampa Bay: Updated Felix Video

By BitcoDavid

Fox Real Time logo on Fox News Channel''

Fox Real Time logo on Fox News Channel” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The following links are to the newest extended special broadcast on Felix’s case, by Florida Fox News outlet WTVT Fox News Channel 13, Tampa Bay.

Here’s the link to the video from their page.

Here’s the video with a transcript by TVEYES media monitor.

And here’s the Vimeo version.

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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