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.

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.

Sincerely,
Jack.

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 http://www.hcponline.org/exhibits/exhibitions/view/44/amy-elkins-black-is-the-day-black-is-the-night-parting-words.

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.
–BitcoDavid]

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

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