I received a letter for the first time from another Deaf inmate in a Florida prison. As usual, his name, locations and identification will not be revealed. I am leaving out, as he requested, any mention or description of personal family, business and actions. I also have had to type it out as the printing is hard to understand if letter was scanned. This is not a letter of abuse as we have seen posted before but is quite different in that this inmate is still struggling with his deafness, like trying to use a TTY phone and communicating with the hearing. I’m typing it verbatim (misspelling included).
July 1, 2012
Hi, I do hope things are going well for you. *** gave me your name and address. He told me you were interested in the trails that the deaf and hearing impaired go through in the judicial and D.O.C. prison system. First of all “Pat” if you don’t mind, I feel I have to apologize for my handwriting. I am ‘all’ left handed and as a 16 year old I was pinned between a truck and block wall. So I have some permanent damage in my left arm.
I don’t really know if I was born with my hearing problem. As a young child I never knew that I had a hearing problem, because I didn’t know. Maybe I may of thought that I had a problem behaving. [He was telling of being reprimanded because he didn’t hear something.] I think it was then when I started setting in the corner of a room and paying attention to every one around me. Constantly looking to see if I was being spoken to. I had a very hard time in school. I was assigned to a speech therapist. This helped me alot in speaking and to keep my voice low. I was always getting into trouble from being way too loud.
[Here he describes his family businesses and the extreme noise.] I didn’t think it mattered my hearing was already almost gone. My first year in prison in*** is when I came to the conclusion that my old ways of hearing wasn’t making it. So I started the process of seeking help.
I seen a audiolgist for an evaluation, this lady was very good at what she did. She discovered that I could and was lip reading her, so she put me in the booth and pulled a blind over the windo. “I never know that I could.” After the exam she told me that, quote “I don’t normally do this but you have a considerable hearing loss and I am going to put you in for two over the ear hearing aids. I will fit you for the left ear now bing that is the ear with the most hearing loss. I only received one from D.O.C. After three years D.O.C. would let me go through the process again of replacing a hearing aid or get a new one. So I got one for my right ear. I have 10% hearing in left ear and 28% in the right ear.
“I tell you mam after 40 years of not hearing. With my hearing aids on “in here” in a crowded day room I find that normal is extremely loud and at time obnoxious. More and more I catch myself turning my aids off and backing myself against a wall or corner. I don’t know if I’ll ever get use to them. Till ** spoke with me about you I never really gave my hearing disability very much thought, pertaining to the court system. Since them I have been thinking about it.
I do see now that in many instances I did not hear what was being told or directed to me. Now that I look back, not only being ignorant of the law. I had a whole lot of blind “faith” in the judicial system and my public defender. I actually see my attorney shaking his head yes or no and I just thought that he knew best. Most of these times were during a bench meeting, collogue, or proffer. These ocured with both attorneys and the judge.
It’s been all coming back. I can picture the judge asking me “do you understand and agree with what has been told to you?” I remember my attorney telling me to just say yes your honor I understand. I look over to my defender and there he is shaking his head yes or no. I honestly thought that I had to agree with my lawer and what he said. Wow I feel like a blooming idiot for not knowing. During a week of trail and many of other orders and hearings I hardly heard anything but confusion.
I have been having a problem trying to get through to my family on the T.T.Y phone for the deaf and hearing impaired. I can’t seem to get through to the Florida relay operator. It’s been a while since I have asked the sarg. to put a workorder in on it to fix it. I will as the assistant warden of programs if he would look into it for me.
I do have a built-in telecoil in one of my hearing aids. This telecoil is designed to pick up the signal from the telephone only. But it is broke and D.O.C. will not pay for the option any more. I can hear my partys on the regular phone if I turn it up all the way and there is no one on the other phone.
I received a “D.R.” after nine years of being clean of any infraction on my record. The D.R. was for disobeying a verbal order. It was so confusing at that time. I was road beaten and had just gotten off the “cattle car”. But from seeing an audiolgist to have my one hearing aid fixed or replaced. So at that time I didn’t have this crucial stepping stone. So the commands spoken by officers now are lost in to a sea of garble. I was so confused at this time I had no hearing aids. Didn’t understand any communications when being interrigated during my brief encounter. I only heard mumblings and inappropriate degrading remarks. Which I refrain from quoting. This all came about during the inmate prossesing circus. I was trying to hear and follow orders being screemed out from “many” sources. The D.R.stood because the sarg. Lied on the D.R. and stated that I said that I heard the verbal order. Five inmates signed whitness statements saying thay didn’t hear no such order, how could he have heard it. So I got 30 days confinement. Before my time was up I got shiped as a confinement inmate back to *** for two surgeries.
I completed the America sign language class. And now I am an active facilitator for the class. I help the people who need a lot of help.
I have run into a lot of times misunderstanding words, getting them twisted around. Lately have been trying to stay to myself and God to keep out of trouble.
Well Pat I do have to apologize for taking so long in writing to you. You gave me a lot to think about, even though you haven’t written to me. “I would like some kind of response if you choose.” Thank you.