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.

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.

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.

http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/29151635/special-report-florida-justice-uncovered

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

http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=88450b25-5e00-44c7-87f5-377db74dfa62

And here’s the Vimeo version.

https://vimeo.com/128326681

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.

How Fox News Became Involved with Felix

By Pat Bliss

English: FOX News Channel newsroom

FOX News Channel newsroom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The day before Felix’s parole hearing in November 2014, a photojournalist representing FOX News interviewed attorney Reggie Garcia and me, in his office. The next morning at the parole hearing he filmed us both, advocating for Felix’s parole. It was an exciting and dramatic time. There were cameras and microphones everywhere.  After our time at the hearing was up, Frank Garcia’s name was called. Frank’s sister, Tina showed up to speak on his behalf and so did their younger brother Michael (who doesn’t know Felix).

The fact that they did not come to speak for Felix caused quite a stir among the media. Afterward in the lobby, Reggie and I were asked a lot of questions about what had just taken place.  We answered what we could and then everyone left, including the photojournalist for FOX News. All we knew at the time was that the parole hearing and Felix’s case was going to be shown on the local news stations around the State of Florida. We hoped for the best. What we didn’t know was that the story touched the Chief Investigator for FOX News in Tampa.

English: Looking east towards 6th Avenue along...

Looking east towards 6th Avenue along north (48th Street) side of Fox News building on a snowy afternoon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The day after the hearing, I drove from Tallahassee – where the parole commission is located – to Marion CI in Ocala, to tell Felix what the outcome was. On the way to Ocala I got a call on my cell phone from Craig Patrick of FOX News. He kindly introduced himself and said he had just spoken with Reggie and he wanted to speak to me about Felix. He wanted to do a video shoot inside the prison.

I told him the procedures he must do. He would need to contact the FDOC media director, download and fill out a form for himself and anyone else attending. That is mainly for a background check, to inform about the equipment that is planned to come in, and an approximate date scheduled. I told Craig that needs to be done first, so he said he will get started on it. We all decided with the holidays coming soon, we will pick up on this after the New Year. I drove home after seeing Felix the weekend after the parole hearing.

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)

Early January we started a dialogue and brought in Sachs Media Group to assist. They are part of our legal team.  We had to get approvals, a sign interpreter lined up, and a date set. The time of an interview is always designated by the FDOC at the institution so to be sure there is a DOC officer available to be in the room when and where the interview is taking place. We chose March 6, 2015 and FDOC chose 9 AM.

Sachs Media Group

Sachs Media Group

I drove back down to Florida end of February 2015.  FOX interviewed me at a station in Tampa.  I was to meet Craig at the prison Friday morning, March 6th, to accompany the team for Felix’s interview.  It went very smoothly, Felix is so likable and impresses everyone that meets him. We were there 2 hours. I visited Felix, as well, both Saturday and Sunday. As always, we had a lot to talk about. He had questions about the interview, and very exited about it. I answered what I could. After our visit Sunday and our goodbyes, I headed back to Virginia. There is a let down after I leave each time, seeing him stand there in line waiting to get shook down and allowed back into the compound as I walk out the door to freedom. Justice for Felix must come soon!

There will be another – and longer – video aired on FOX at 5:30pm May 25th. I will post the link after it is aired.

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.

Felix Case – Some Important Links

By BitcoDavid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Change! Fox News Program about Felix

By Pat Bliss

To All Felix’s Supporters:

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

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

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

https://vimeo.com/127325386

Pat Bliss is a retired paralegal in criminal law. She continues to do legal work for indigent prisoner cases showing innocence. She is a Certified Community Chaplain, Certified as a volunteer for CISM (Crises Intervention Stress Management) and involved in community events.

I Love It Here!

By Pat Bliss

FVStore.com

FVStore.com

In my last post Felix had problems in understanding his classes without an interpreter. It did not get any better so we had to have him moved to a facility that does provide an interpreter. Felix’s new home is Marion CI and here is his new address:

Felix Garcia #482246
Marion Corr. Inst.
P.O. Box 158
Lowell, FL 32663-0158

Marion K9 Team Google+

Marion K9 Team

“I love it here.” Those are Felix’s words upon settling down at Marion CI. He has interpreter access for classes in their special programming and beyond. He is around other deaf and finds it peaceful and non-violent. Yes, he was there briefly late last year and beginning this year but was sent to Wakulla to begin their transitional program as mandated by the parole commission. He tried to make the best of it but would never been able to succeed without an interpreter, they refused to get one, so we had to have him moved.

The other day in the rec yard, Felix saw something he had never seen up close and that is a horse. In fact seven horses, “real horses, mom.”  Felix described what colors they were, eating grass and shaking their manes. In his letter he said,

“I wish they would let me go over there with an apple, where I would get one I don’t know, and let me feed them and pet them or brush them. I would come right back.”

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. http://www.dc.state.fl.us/secretary/press/2001/horses.html

Felix watched a colt jump and play and enjoyed it so. He said a guy stopped and said “Dude, it’s just a horse.” Felix replied “are you kidding me? Look how beautiful that thing is.”  Felix ended with “this is just awesome.”  He wants to pet a cow too so I arranged for my neighbor to allow him to, when he gets out of prison.

The legal team is continually busy working on Felix’s clemency and parole actions, meetings and media to promote his innocence. There will be a special report on Felix by Craig Patrick, FOX 13, Tampa, FL, May 14th at 10pm. As for seeing it outside the viewing area of FOX 13 it is still being looked into. Will try to keep everyone apprised.

Following is Felix’s revised website http://freefelix2015.wix.com/justiceforfelix. Please check it out. I wish to thank you all again for your interest and support in finding justice for Felix.

Kindly,

Pat Bliss

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.

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