Short Survey Helps HEARD and Deaf Inmates

By BitcoDavid

Modern TTY with acoustic coupler for text-to-speech. Image - Wikipedia

Modern TTY with acoustic coupler for text-to-speech. Image – Wikipedia

The Internet has been a huge boon to the Deaf Community, and it can be leveraged into a great asset for Deaf inmates as well. One major problem facing the Deaf in prison, is access to telecommunications. There are numerous factors that go into this problem. Numbering among them are, time required to place calls, cost of calling out, and availability of useable technology.

About 75 years ago, a system was invented by which the Deaf could use the telephone. That system was known as TTY. TTY stands for Teletypewriter. This is a device with a QWERTY keyboard, and a LED or LCD readout. The system translates voice into text, for the Deaf user to read. The receiver must also have a TTY terminal. TTYs have a separate number, and the Deaf user can only call other TTY machines. The ADA states that TTY phones must be made available to Deaf inmates, and most facilities do have them.

The problem is that most modern Deaf, can’t use them. People raised with ASL as a first language, may not be able to read – or read well enough to utilize the machine. Even well educated Deaf – those with a Baccalaureate reading level, or above – are not likely to be familiar with – or to use – these machines. You may be an excellent driver, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to drive a Model “T” Ford.

The analogy is apt. We’ve had generations to become accustomed to automatic transmissions, electric starters, fuel injection and even turn signals. The Model “T” had none of these.  So, a law stating that you are entitled to your own Model “T” will be of little benefit to you.

The modern equivalent of the TTY system, is Video Relay. This system works by utilizing an interpreter to read the Deaf caller’s Sign, and translate it into English for the Hearing receiver. It is slightly slower than normal full duplex communication, due to the time required by the interpreter, but by comparison to TTY, our analogous Model “T” becomes a McLaren Corvette.

If the caller and the receiver both Sign, then Skype and other Internet alternatives would be even better.

OLPC: XO internet access

OLPC: XO internet access. Image – Wikipedia

The problem is that most jails and prison facilities in this country, don’t have VR, and don’t allow Internet access. To the Deaf, this is tantamount to Solitary Confinement. Even if a Deaf inmate can learn to master the clunky, unreliable and inaccurate TTY system, he is charged at the same exploitative rate, as his hearing counterparts. But a TTY call can take up to 10X longer. The cost of such a call, can be staggering.

HEARD has been working for several years now, on getting Corrections Departments to begin using VR, and so has DeafInPrison.com. Beyond that, I would like to see Deaf and Hearing inmates alike, allowed limited Internet access. They’ve been doing just that, in Sweden for a decade now, and it has worked out very well. Classes, support groups and even social networks could be established that would greatly benefit inmates, and in so doing, benefit society as a whole. And for the Deaf, it would allow them the same freedom in communication with family and friends, that is afforded the Hearing. It could also be used to take control away from exploitative Telecom companies, and reduce the cost of making or receiving calls, behind bars.

Most people are aware of the high currency value afforded cigarettes, in prison society. But what many do not know, is that phone time holds a similar value. The price gouging Telecoms set this situation in motion. Inmates are commonly victimized – beaten, robbed or even killed – for their phone cards. Free Internet access could change that.

I have included a link below, to a short survey by HEARD. I took it. It only takes about 15 seconds to complete, and the aggregate data will help HEARD in their work with the FCC and other organizations responsible for prison Telecommunications.

http://us3.campaign-archive1.com/?u=5ef6628ab98fb3b95eaa08a7a&id=4a471a595e&e=7c38cfb9e6

or

http://goo.gl/hnWnvk

I urge you to take this survey, share it on FaceBook, Twitter and other social networks, comment and write to some or all of the organizations listed on the site. We need to address these problems if we’re ever to attain inmate equality.

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.

Skype and the Deaf

By BitcoDavid

Skype

Skype (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Video Relay is a godsend for the Deaf community. It allows those who cannot speak or hear, to engage in phone conversations with those who can. And it does so with far greater ease and speed, than its predecessor, TTY. But Video Relay has its drawbacks as well. It’s slower than full duplex communication, because an interpreter must relay the data back and forth. It requires subscription to a service. That subscription may or may not be free to the Deaf user, but a service is required nonetheless. Lastly, Video Relay requires specialized equipment – a Videophone.

The Internet has offered a number of alternatives to Video Relay, but so far, few of them have been widely accepted. Most of these services and sites are designed around Hearing users, but can be modified or adapted for use by the Deaf. This doesn’t hold true however, with Skype. While not actually designed for ASL, the system is amazingly ASL-friendly.

skype phone

skype phone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s where this service shines in Deaf or ASL user communication. It allows the user to establish a video call on a PC, laptop, tablet or cellphone. In short, you can see one another, which means you can sign to one another. For PCs you would of course, need a separate outboard webcam.

The Deaf community embraced this technology years ago. Every Deaf person I know, uses Skype – and they’re more married to their smartphones, than Hearing teens. I often see Deaf people signing – one handed – to their phones.

Video-call

Video-call (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But for us – the Hearing signer – Skype also offers benefits. We can use it as another tool in our arsenal of learning aids. If you can find a Deaf person, interpreter, ASL tutor, or practicing student who’s willing to Skype with you, you’ll have a convenient and free study method. Furthermore, since Skype is Cloud based, and works in conjunction with FaceBook and Twitter, you can find people to sign with, whom you don’t personally know.

As a part of my system upgrade, I will be installing it on all 3 of my workstations. I see potential uses on this site, our FaceBook group – ASL Learners by DeafInPrison.com – and in my personal ASL-er’s life as well.

In the meantime, I’d like to take a moment to thank Randy Tweedie, for offering to tutor me in Sign, and Chris Majeskey, for setting it up for me. Both are from Beverly School for the Deaf. With their help, maybe someday,  I’ll sign as well as I fight.

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.

 

2014 in Review

By BitcoDavid

I hope you all had a great New Years holiday. Since my days of wearing lampshades have gone the way of the pterodactyl, my last vice consists entirely of food. Like all Jews, to me the last day of the year means one thing and one thing  only – Chinese! I’ll be running a lot of laps, and doing a ton of crunches, to pay the tab for all those fried dumplings and scallion pancakes.

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 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)

It was a difficult but rewarding year. Felix Garcia got a shot at clemency, and a shot at parole. Though neither worked out the way we had hoped, we did see a few small victories in his case. Sachs Media contacted me to write a letter for the parole board – and I not only worked on it for hours, but spent a fortune over-nighting it to Florida – only to have it go unread, at the hearing. Thankfully, my readers here, did read it, so I don’t feel the work was wasted.

We had a great Supporter Contribution from an attorney who presented an argument for why he believes Felix should not be released. Pat Bliss handled our rebuttal. Although we disagree with his premise, we welcomed his objective and informative input. DeafInPrison.com is always looking for well written and thoughtful alternatives to our point of view. This particular attorney was reticent about coming forward and speaking his mind, in the decidedly Left Wing Blogosphere. I helped him create a screen-name and guaranteed his anonymity. A courtesy we will always extend. On the other hand, if you want some 80,000 people knowing who you are, we’re able to help with that as well.

It hasn’t been a good year for the police. An individual for whom I hold great respect and admiration – MadMike – promised me a piece from the pro-police perspective. He’s a former law enforcement professional, and a university professor. To add just a soupçon of irony, the school he teaches at, is none other than Kent State. He’s working on a post, as we speak, and I’m sure it will be emotionally moving and highly edifying.

I’ve had a number of personal ASL adventures. A total stranger walked up to me at Northshore Mall, after Meetup, and signed “You Deaf?” to me.

DeafInPrison.com / Google Images

DeafInPrison.com / Google Images

Even more impressive, was that he thought I was lying when I signed back, “No – Hearing.” I attended a holiday party where some were Hearing and some were Deaf, but the rule was, voices off. I was there – and signing – for a good 4 hours. I even gave a Deaf man a ride home. Think about how significant that is. I followed route directions, from a person who cannot talk. I’ve had 2 sections of “Conversational ASL,” at Beverly School for the Deaf, and am in the process of getting a Sign tutor. Someday, I might be able to do all these posts in Signed video.

Speaking of video. We are about 3 quarters of the way through our complete system upgrade. Some machines haven’t been replaced for 8 years. 8 years to a computer is like 15 to a dog. My video editor is now a quad core Xeon, with 3 SSDs and 6G of DDR 1066. Many of you already have better tech than that, but if you saw the poor old workhorse that I was using, you’d get what an upgrade this is. I built my video editor 8 years ago, with parts that were bordering on obsolete – back then. And it wasn’t without a tear or two, that I waved goodbye, as the big green truck hauled it to its final rest.

I'll never tell.

I’ll never tell.

My mail server and my main workstation are the last two machines to go. That should happen this coming month. We’re running Win7 Pro, and although it’s 15 years late, we’re finally in the 21st century. LED projection, and then of course teleportation are my next challenges.

Most people are glad to see a year go, and pin their hopes on the coming one. While I do have really high hopes for 2015, I can’t call 2014 a bad year. In fact, from the point of view of DeafInPrison.com – it’s been a great year.

Here’s WordPress’ annual report.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 25,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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.

Something Different for New Years

By BitcoDavid

This isn’t about the Deaf. It isn’t about rampant police overreach or even about the failed war on drugs. For our last post of 2014, I decided on something a little different.

If God rested on Sunday, he woke up Monday morning, clear headed and with fresh eyes. His last – his bestest – creation? Dogs. They were so good a thing, he made himself their namesake. Of course he had to spell it backwards, to avoid confusion.

Me? I love me some fuzzbutts.

The Psychology of Dogs
Source: The Psychology of Dogs

We at DeafInPrison.com, have been working tirelessly this month, upgrading our entire system – rebuilding the giant complex beneath Colorado’s Cheyenne Mountain. We need about 2 more weeks, but the increase in technological capability will result in better posts, more embedded files and higher res videos. I’m looking forward to 2015 as being a great year.

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’s Response to the Parole Hearing

By Pat Bliss

Photo of entrance to horse farm at Marion CI. The equine training program is the result of a partnership between DOC and the TRF. The program will train inmates to rehabilitate retired thoroughbred racehorses for use by the Department of Corrections and other law enforcement agencies, adoption by the general public, and provide life-long retirement for some horses. http://www.dc.state.fl.us/secretary/press/2001/horses.html

Photo of entrance to horse farm at Marion CI. The equine training program is the result of a partnership between DOC and the TRF. The program will train inmates to rehabilitate retired thoroughbred racehorses for use by the Department of Corrections and other law enforcement agencies, adoption by the general public, and provide life-long retirement for some horses. State of Florida

I arrived at Marion Correctional Institution, thinking I was early, but still having to wait one and one-half hours, to get in. Fortunately it was not raining. I was checked through security, and waiting for Felix to come into the visiting room. Actually, I was very excited with the news of the parole decision, as I knew in my heart that it would be good news.

He came in without his cane, this time – with a big smile on his face – and gave me a strong hug. I asked, “Want to get in line to the canteen first?” We did, and our conversation went like this:

P: Have you heard anything?

F: I heard on TV 3 years and saw you wearing red.

P: What else?

F: Nothing else, but everyone in the room turned and looked at me and said, ‘is that you?’ I said ‘yes.’

P: They also reduced your PPRD by 12 months and you are going into the Lifer’s Program, what do you think of that?

F: Wow! Wow! (Surprised, he rubbed his head and clapped his hands) he said ‘hard to take in, freedom in view. I’m excited to get started.’

Entrance to Marion CI. State of Florida

Entrance to Marion CI.
State of Florida

I bought the items for our lunch and we found a place to sit – Felix on one side of the table and I, on the other. The authorities had allowed him to bring in a few pieces of paper, and a pen. We could write back and forth if we had any difficulty understanding each other.

At one point, Felix said, “You know, most of my life was not about freedom. It was convincing them I am innocent. This latest thing with the parole is like finally someone is listening. Most parolee’s are put off for 7 years and they give up. When I saw [the] 3-year thing, I started to cry. They gave me hope. I see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Aerial view of Marion Work camp. Wikimapia

Aerial view of Marion Work camp. Wikimapia

In a letter to a supporter, Felix had mentioned a big tree that he had seen when he arrived at Marion CI.I asked him about that, and he said, “It is so big and tall, haven’t seen one like it in 33 years. I hugged the tree the first time I saw it. You don’t see the power of God until you see the bigness of that tree.” He would look up and stare at it, and others would stop and look up too. Something they never did before, as they took it for granted.

Marion K9 Team Google+

Marion K9 Team Google+

We talked about the Lifer’s Program, and I told him, the future is now is your hands. Felix is an achiever, one who always wants to improve himself. Maybe it is also a desire to prove to himself that he is normal. He can be like everyone else – smart. But Felix doesn’t realize that not all Hearing are smart. Just because one can hear, and live in the free world does not mean they have been a student of life, and taken advantage of the opportunities offered them. Felix is so wise about the things that matter – character, honesty, kindness and generosity. As I told the parole board, 5-10-20 years more will not change Felix. His character and faith will continue to keep him strong.

Before I left, I asked him if he would write something to the Deaf Community. It by no means excludes his hearing supporters, as he has repeatedly mentions the letters of encouragement he receives – the awesomeness of so many, caring about him – but in this instance, the message is for the Deaf Community:

I just want to thank all of my Deaf brothers and sisters for your support and sticking with me through these hard times. If anyone knows how hard it is for the Deaf people to live in a hearing world it’s you. But now you know that your prayers were heard and society sees us as people. Thanks to God. We have a awesome God. :)

He drew a smiley face at the end.

It was a great visit. They all are. We have become as close as a mother and son. But, this particular time, I felt a great sense of accomplishment in leaving Felix with real hope, and a goal to strive for. We’ll be seeing each other again in a couple months, for other business. It was with that thought, that we said our good-byes. Merry Christmas, and I pray God’s blessings to you all.

— Pat Bliss

[Editor’s note: You’ve all seen the pictures of Felix, and the pictures of Pat Bliss at the hearing. So for the graphics for this post, I chose to find some pictures of Marion CI. In so doing, I learned about some of the progressive and innovative programs they have in place. I will speak more to this, in a future post. — BitcoDavid]

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.

Pat Bliss Talks About Felix’s Parole Hearing

By Pat Bliss

Preparation for Felix’s Parole Hearing

Attorney Reggie Garcia and I received notice about Felix’s November 19th parole hearing on November 3rd. We were surprised, as we expected it to be a month or two away. After much preparation and arrangements, I set out for Florida on the 15th, and arrived in Tallahassee, late in the afternoon of the 16th. On the following day, Attorney Reggie Garcia had set up a 2-hour video shoot at Sachs Media Group. Reggie, Gary Lieffers of Florida Association of the Deaf and I, all had on-camera interviews. Sachs Media edited the program and sent it out as a news release on the morning of the 18th. It went out to news outlets all over the state of Florida.

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

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

While the press releases were going out, Reggie and I met with two of the parole commissioners on the Florida Commission on Offender Review board. The meetings gave us the opportunity to learn what subjects they intended on questioning us about. It gave us a heads up as to what to be prepared for at the hearing. Afterward, we headed back to Reggie’s office to go over our transcripts and summaries. The press releases resulted in our receiving numerous calls for interviews. We scheduled an interview for Tuesday afternoon at 5:00PM, with Britanny Kleinpeter – reporter and anchorwoman – of WTXL/ABC 27. We followed that, with another interview at 8:30PM, with Jon Manson-Hing, representing two Tampa TV stations: Fox and CBS affiliates. After getting back to my motel room, I worked on my talking points. It was a long and tiring day, but I wanted our readers to get some idea of the amount of preparation that went into my part of the following day’s parole hearing.

Drama at Parole Hearing: Felix vs. Frank Garcia
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 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)

Wednesday, November 19th, at 9AM, we arrived at the building where the parole commission is located. Reggie dropped me off at the front door as he parked the car. When I walked into the lobby, it was ablaze with activity. A personal escort led me into the parole hearing room, where a reserved seat was waiting. Reggie sat next to me. Chairperson Tena Pate announced that no paroles would be under consideration at that time, so we found ourselves having to forgo that option. We were however, still anxious to advocate for Felix, when our turn came.

There was another high profile case before ours. Mark DeFriest, a mentally ill inmate who had served over 3 decades, thus far. A British company documented his life story. His case received a continuance, for later in December. Then it was time for Felix’s case. Reggie and I walked up front and sat at the table. We only had a 10-minute time limit. Reggie went first, he told about the 7-hour alibi, and whom we believe framed Felix. Reggie held up an enlarged 1984 picture of Frank, Tina and her boyfriend – Ray Stanley – to show the board and the media, the participants. He stated their motives in blaming the actual shooting on Felix.

Prosecuting attorney Mark Ober speaks to the Florida Commission on Offender Review concerning inmate 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)

Prosecuting attorney Mark Ober speaks to the Florida Commission on Offender Review concerning inmate 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)

As planned, I would have the most amount of the time. I started with why I felt Felix is innocent, and why I stayed with his case for so long. When I first received Felix’s file I saw Tina and Frank’s un-filed affidavits, recanting their trial testimony, and how his inability to hear, played a huge part in the trial. I told them about the report of – court appointed – ENT specialist, Dr. Agliano. I noted its conclusion that Felix’s hearing inability was moderate to severe at time of trial. I stated that Felix had his Sixth Amendment rights violated. His trial attorney – in three different motions – issued a notice of Felix’s lack of understanding of the trial process, and his inability to defend himself.

Attorneys Reginald Garcia, left, and Pat Bliss 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) Courtesy Mail Online.com

Attorneys Reginald Garcia, left, and Pat Bliss 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) Courtesy Mail Online.com

I went into Felix’s 37 Certificates in skills learned. I told them he has a home to come to and supporters all around the country – Deaf and hearing alike – to help him transition back into society. I also stated that he is employable with his computer skills for one, and has a church family already waiting for him. I ended with, even if he receives 5,10 or even 20 years more, his character as a sweet, kind and generous person will not change. He is always looking out for others. I told how he gives to those with nothing, like sharing his soup with other Deaf inmates who have no one to visit them at Christmas. He has no criminal intent. In his thinking he harbors forgiveness, because he knows that failing to forgive only destroys one’s self. He has no malice against the Tramontana family, as he never met the victim, Joseph Tramontana Jr. Lastly, I showed the commissioners a hand made birthday card from the guys in Felix’s dorm at Tomoka. There are 63 signatures of thanks for helping them, thanks for being a role model and thanks for being a mentor. I ended with a plea to consider parole and if not, then the Lifer’s Program, which Felix will gladly accept.

 

Then, Mark Ober – State Attorney of Hillsborough County – along with Tramontana’s four sisters, tried hard to keep Felix from getting the relief of freedom. They were not present when we spoke. Mr. Ober spoke after the sisters, and showed documents to the commissioners to prove Felix was competent, and could understand and write legal documents. He showed two state expert witnesses – non-ENT specialists – reports stating Felix had no problem understanding, he could hear and he was competent to stand trial. He did not dispute the defense’s alibi witnesses or the time-line showing where Felix was at the time of the murder. In a surprise move, the commission let us come back to speak further. This was crucial to us. Generally, the victims have the last word. The court views any inaccuracies or exaggerations as true, when not disputed. I was able to dispute Mr. Ober’s allegations about Felix’s ability to understand legal proceedings, hear, and write legal documents.

First, I told them that I had written all Felix’s legal documents from 1996 on, and I stressed his inability – even today – to understand legal proceedings. I refuted Mr. Ober’s allegation that Felix’s hearing was just fine at time of the trial, according to Dr. Agliano’s report. I gave a visual description of the scale used to determine the degree of deafness, and where Felix stood versus someone who can hear. Dr. Algiano said that hearing is acceptable up to 25%. Ober said Felix was at 70%, at the time of trial. In truth, Felix was at a 40% loss, if not more. [See correction below. — ed.]

Felix's most recent shot December 2013 Tomoka. Image Courtesy Pat Bliss

Felix’s most recent shot December 2013 Tomoka.
Image Courtesy Pat Bliss

The commission ruled that Felix would receive a reduction of 12 months from his proposed parole release date to 8/10/2025. He will have another review in 3 years. Furthermore, he will go to the special 18-month transitional programming – generally known as the Lifer’s Program. Reggie and I were both happy with that because the alternative could have been no PPRD reduction, no change in housing, and the next hearing in 7 years. That is exactly what happened in Frank’s case.

Felix Garcia celebrating his GED in 1984 Courtesy Pat Bliss. From Mother Jones Magazine.

Felix Garcia celebrating his GED in 1984 Courtesy Pat Bliss.
From Mother Jones Magazine.

In another surprise move by the Commission, Frank Garcia’s case was up next. Already, the camera operators and reporters were there, and they were not about to move out of that room! Reggie and I stood on the sidelines – close to the front – to listen again to Mark Ober and the sisters. The sisters said essentially, the same things but Mr. Ober was even more adamant to keeping Frank incarcerated. He had prosecuted Frank at his own trial in 1982. Then came Frank’s speakers to support him being granting parole. They were sister Tina and a younger brother – Michael – who was 15 years old when the crime occurred. It shocked many people to see Tina and Mike there for Frank, but not Felix. It was so obvious that their loyalty lay with one and not to the other. Mike was brainwashed by Frank into believing Felix did it, and Frank had a smaller part. Tina – who had recanted in a 1996 affidavit stating Felix had nothing to do with the planning or commission of the crime – now feels her freedom is more important, and will not admit again to any wrongdoing nor to exonerate Felix. She is the only one who can bring this case back into court, outside of the Hillsborough County State Attorney, making that move to overturn Felix’s conviction.

Image courtesy Pat Bliss

Image courtesy Pat Bliss

I was so upset that I could not think to ask Tina, specifically why she refuses to help Felix. All I could think to say to her was, why did you not testify for Felix as well. Her answer was because Felix didn’t ask her. Oh really? To do kindness to a brother you must be asked first? I can only conclude that everyone in that family believes Felix thinks – and acts – like them. His family had abandoned him, and Felix would not ask for their support at his parole hearing. The Garcia family has no concept of Felix’s limitations being deaf – his reading and verbal comprehension to start with. He has had no formal education as a deaf man. However, in the end, Reggie and I were able to educate the public a little about being deaf and caught up in the criminal justice system – via Felix’s case.

After the parole meetings were over – out in the lobby – reporters surrounded us. They wanted clarification on what went on, and our reaction to the decision.

They left, and it was finally a chance to calm down and regroup my thoughts, as to how to explain all that had occurred, to Felix, that coming weekend at Marion C.I. in Ocala, Florida.

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.

[Correction: Ober did not have anything to do with the hearing test. The report by Dr. Agliano said Felix had a 70% loss at time of the trial. His opinion was that Felix had at least a 40-45% loss at time of the crime two years earlier - which was still a much more significant loss, than the 25% that is considered the limit of hearing with clear discernment. Dr. Agliano was the defense expert witness who testified at the trial, after having given Felix a thorough hearing test. The State expert witnesses were non-ENTs, who interviewed Felix and said he had no problem hearing them. –Ed.]

The Beezly Street Gazette

The Newsiest News You Ever Knew

Inside A Deaf Woman's Mind

Deaf Songbird Blog

Special Education For Teens But Special Rules for Parents

Tips and tools to support teenagers with special needs, while helping your student transition to college.

spiritandanimal.wordpress.com

We are not far from one another: there is a deep connection between spirit, animal, nature, humanity, clouds ....

TechCrunch

Startup and Technology News

Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Simple observations, analysis, and common sense comments

Random Notes from Some Kind of Hairpin

A collection, olio, mishmash, stew and/or medley of extemporanea

Playwright at Liberty

A place for my theatre writing: Plays, criticism, essays, miscellaney, and random fulminations on things dramatic

So few critics, so many poets

"If you think it is so easy to be a critic, so difficult to be a poet or a painter or film experimenter, may I suggest you try both? You may discover why there are so few critics, so many poets." - Pauline Kael

SayWhatClub

A global forum for people with hearing loss

Adult & Teen Fiction

Read on and I will show you another world within this one....

Great Indie Authors

Supporting Indie Authors Worldwide

writing to freedom

a place to connect, inspire, and thrive

Tricks & the Town.

A younger more cynical version of Carrie Bradshaw in the UK... with a lot less to work with. "There's plenty of fish in the sea" - Yes, as well as Stingrays, Sharks & Sewage.

aslnerd

Teaching. Learning. Growing.

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

Amplifying the voices of those in California's solitary confinement in their call for an end to torture

Hearing Elmo

Living with Hearing Loss and Invisible Disability

I Was in Prison...

Official Blog of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program

LEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS

Rational thinking and reporting on all things transgender

Hands 2 Inspire™

Giving Back Sharing Knowledge Raising Awareness

Do the Write Thing...Tampa

Improving Our Craft

Daniel Costigan

Turning snapshots of raw experience into something beautiful.

Truth- A Right to Fight For...

...Truth the Media Wont Cover... Police Brutality... Prison Industry... The War on "Drugs", Racism, Pit Bull Awareness & More... For Mental Health, Domestic Violence and Women's Rights -including Abortion Rights- Please Look Under "My Other Sites"

Maverick Writer

Follow your own path

diaryofanegress

Observations of an Invisible Woman

moderate-severe/profound... quirky

Hearing aids, meltdowns and everything The Miracle Worker didn't teach me about raising a deaf child with autism

Digestible Politics

Politics Made Easy!

Crates and Ribbons

In pursuit of gender equality

Gotta Find a Home:

Conversations with Street People

Bonnie's Blog of Crime

My Life of Crime, Murder, Missing People and such! Above all else, never forget the victim, that the victim lived, had a life and was loved. The victim and their loved ones deserve justice, as does society.

Step One to Solving any Problem is Admitting a Problem Exists

A Life Aesthetically Inclined. (Because I'm deaf, not blind.)

Book Hub, Inc.

The Total Book Experience

Marcela De Vivo

Inbound & Integrative Online Marketing

clarkcountycriminalcops

A look at Police Misconduct in Clark County, Nevada and Across the U.S.

Rumpydog

Dog paddling through life...

Life In Color With Closed Captions

Just another WordPress.com site

Prisoner Activist

News, reports and other resources on criminal justice and prison reform

terry1954

inspirational stories that touch your heart and soul

Kendall F. Person, thepublicblogger

where blogging is a performance art & every post is a show

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,092 other followers

%d bloggers like this: