By BitcoDavid


I made this graphic to commemorate our 100,000 views. It’s taken us almost 4 years to do. In that time, our 7 authors and numerous supporter contributors have created 573 posts. We’ve reached 43,000 individual visitors, and our message has been seen at least once in every country on Earth.

Now, we’re officially a big-dog Web site. As the graphic says, in Gallaudet Thin (ASL Fingerspelling) font, “Thank you all.”

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.

Another Move Another Home For Felix

By Pat Bliss

Attorneys Pat Bliss, right, and Reginald Gracia speak to the Florida Commission on Offender Review on behave of Felix Garcia on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, in Tallahassee, Fla. Garcia, a deaf Florida man who supporters say was framed for murder by his brother has a chance to get out of prison. Garcia is serving a life sentence for the murder of Joseph Tramontana Jr. during a 1981 Tampa robbery. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

Attorneys Pat Bliss, right, and Reginald Gracia speak to the Florida Commission on Offender Review on behalf of Felix Garcia on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, in Tallahassee, Fla. Garcia, a deaf Florida man who supporters say was framed for murder by his brother has a chance to get out of prison. Garcia is serving a life sentence for the murder of Joseph Tramontana Jr. during a 1981 Tampa robbery. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

You sometimes wonder – will the moves, the accusations, the disruptions ever end for Felix?  Well, here we are again having to have Felix moved from his home camp of Marion Correctional to protect his life.

We had to move him fast, when he was at Tomoka C.I., because he divulged to authorities some criminal activity going on, and his life was threatened. He was temporarily sent to Marion C.I. to await his parole hearing results.

Image depicting member of MS13 gang. Work of t...

Image depicting member of MS13 gang. Work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Public Domain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the parole hearing, Felix was moved to Wakulla C.I. to start special programming as mandated by the parole commission. But that went sour when he needed a sign interpreter and they would not provide one for him – presumably because of cost and inconvenience. He kept grieving for one, but bad things started to happen and we had to move him out fast again.

The attorney and I conferred with the parole commission in Tallahassee to send Felix back to Marion C.I., as it had interpreters for the deaf and special programming. And he liked it there. He was in the faith dorm. But that did not last either. Before he left Tomoka C.I. his special radio that works with his hearing aid was stolen. He did not see it again until back at Marion C.I. where he saw it in the possession of a gang member. He asked for it back, but was told in essence, to get lost. He reported it to his classification officer. Staff members confronted the gang member. He said Felix had sold it to him. They put this gang member in lock up. Friends of the gang member then threatened Felix’s life and someone else threatened to knife him. He was put in protective custody.

2013 photo of Felix with Pat Bliss. Image credit Pat Bliss

2013 photo of Felix with Pat Bliss.
Image credit Pat Bliss

Being in confinement is the same place whether it is for punishment or protection. He was there for 28 days. There was no recreation and all meals were served in his cell. He saw no daylight – as confinement is under the building – unless he was sent to medical. He had no church, no interaction or conversation with any deaf. He could not understand what the hearing inmates were talking about, to each other, nor could make out what the guards were saying at a distance.

It was driving him crazy. I kept in touch with his C.O. on a regular basis.  She went to see him often. She was undoubtedly the nicest most caring C.O. I have ever interacted with. Felix was blessed to have her.  However, with no end in sight, to the ongoing investigation, the Warden decided to transfer Felix elsewhere.

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

Felix had 6 moves, taking 23 days, before landing at Columbia Correctional Annex. This camp was one of the choices by DOC in Tallahassee, noting the camp administrators will take care of Felix and his hearing disability, and they have the special programming as well. The attorney and I respectfully disagreed but hopefully, they will have interpreters for the special programs and a workable TTY phone for Felix to call me and others. Unfortunately, he also arrived without his tennis shoes, his cane, an ADA lock or a combination lock. His head was shaved in retaliation for seeking an interpreter, and he had no shampoo or lotion. They were all taken from him. I called property at the one location where all but the shoes were taken from him. Nothing could be found.

Felix lives in a vacuum, he said it is like being under water all the time. He pleads to have some normalcy in his life, to be left alone and not have his life constantly disrupted. He yearns for a sense of tranquility and stability, but that has never happened. August 10th marked his 34th year – an innocent man in prison. As his defacto mom, my heart grieves for him. He deserves some peace and a taste of freedom.

Sachs Media Group

Sachs Media Group

I talked with his new C.O. and she had a nice 2 hour meeting with Felix. They communicated by writing notes back and forth. She knows what he needs to complete any classes or programs. She liked the notes so she can go back to them to assure Felix’s needs are met. This is positive news, that he again has a caring C.O. on his side. She said he is doing fine.

Perhaps you, as supporters of Felix and his cause, will write and give him encouragement that he is not alone; that people do care. That will make his day, after what he has been through the past couple months Thank you all from my heart.  Pat Bliss

New Address:

Felix Garcia #482246
Columbia Correctional Annex
216 S.E. Corrections Way
Lake City, FL 52025-2013

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.

An ASL Video by Me

By BitcoDavid

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.

Deaf in Jail – Mistreatment of the Deaf.

By Supporter Contributor Melisa Marzett

Deaf people belong to one of the most vulnerable layers of society for obvious reasons. They cannot hear. Deaf people in jail are even more insecure. Some might say that if a person is in jail, this person deserves it and deserves the mistreatment, despite any physical disabilities like Deafness. Prison is a punishment already. God teaches us to forgive and to have mercy. Unfortunately, not many of us follow God`s commandments.

Quite often, Deaf people in prison get poor healthcare. A Deaf person can be easy to frame or wrongly accuse. For a Deaf person, it would be difficult to prove himself not guilty. Such a person may easily become bullied and it is very rare for them to be given any tools for easier communication.

They cannot hear the guards, take classes or know when they have visitors. They cannot inform about being insulted and that makes them even more vulnerable to attack. They may become isolated, either physically, in protective custody or seclusion, or emotionally within the general population. There have been situations where correctional officers even faked sign language. A Deaf prisoner was taken out of his cell for a haircut and when the job was half done, the correctional officer asked to stop the process, poking fun at the prisoner who could not understand what is happening.

Making phone calls is also an issue for a Deaf inmate because this person has to reply on other prisoners or use a special teletypewriter for Deaf people. Some use video calls but their percentage is rather small. Deaf prisoners are also human beings and they have all the rights that people with no hearing loss problem have. They should receive psychological and medical care, they have the right of speech and the right to choose or follow their religion.

Deaf inmates may not hear audio announcements. Then, they are punished for disobeying the general rules. Many correctional institutions have rules, which are rather absurd about batteries and chargers for Deaf, cochlear implants, communication and sign language. Despite a Deaf inmate needing two hearing aids, he or she is allowed to get one only.

There is also well-known form of torture; solitary confinement. It is dreadfully cruel. More so for a person who is Deaf because they may not comprehend why this is happening to them. There are no prisons – or even cell-blocks or dorms for Deaf prisoners only. Therefore, quite often they are put into solitary confinement just because of their hearing difficulty.

Melisa Marzett is the woman behind CleverEditor.com.
She is a talented writer and blogger with an outstanding point of view on things. She is fond of reading, traveling, meeting new people and getting to know new things. She shares gladly with other people through her writings

Jill’s Dilemma

By Jean F. Andrews

In a southern state in a Federal prison, Jill is serving a 10-year term.  While sign language interpreters are provided for her when her attorney comes to visit or during her hearings with the judge, she does not get interpreting services within the prison. For example, she does not fully understand the rules of the prison nor can she read the inmate handbook because it’s written at too high of a reading level and there was no interpreter present to translate it for her.  Jill has coped with this awful situation by teaching Jane – a fellow inmate – basic sign language. So now she uses it to communicate with Jane, when playing cards, or during other leisure activities and in the cafeteria.  Jill also asks Jane to come with her to interpret during medical exams, at the dentist office, and during disciplinary hearings. Jill has relayed to me that she is not comfortable with this arrangement because Jane likes to gossip Jill’s business to the other inmates and this has created humiliating embarrassment.  Jill is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Jill’s case of having a fellow inmate act as her interpreter opens up a Pandora’s box.  There is the problem of professional incompetence, the lack of confidentiality, potential conflict of interest, and perhaps subjecting her to misrepresentation. Deaf inmates like Jill have to resort to this practice because criminal justice officials oftentimes do not understand the critical need for deaf inmates to have certified sign language interpreters. Providing sign language interpreters 24/7, round-the-clock would make the costs unreasonable. However, it is reasonable to expect that interpreters will be provided during time such as the prison intake where important medical and psychological information is collected, during the prison orientation so that the inmate knows the rules, in translation of the prison handbook (many of which are written at the 11th grade or above), and during any GED classes, other educational classes, or religious services that the prison provides.  In addition, if the deaf inmate faces disciplinary charges, then calling in a certified interpreter would be imperative.

It is a myth that if Jane is taught some sign language by Jill that she is now ready to function as a sign language interpreter.  ASL interpreting is a technical skill that comes with professional training in the understanding and production of translating from one language to another. It also involves providing translation to the meaning of the communication if it gets lost or confused or misunderstood.  Interpreters also need to know about Deaf culture and how to work with deaf persons, how to determine the deaf person’s language levels and so on.  All of this entails cultural, cognitive, linguistic knowledge and highly technical skills in producing and comprehending signing. In addition, trained interpreters must follow a code of ethics, confidentiality, and know about current legislation that provides interpreters for deaf persons such as the ADA.

Jill’s dilemma is not just hers but it happens to other prison inmates as well.

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

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 DeafInPrison.com 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 DeafInPrison.com, 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.

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