Another Digest Post

By BitcoDavid

With all that’s been going on at DeafInPrison.com, I’ve been unable to keep up with regular news posts. Well, the world keeps on turning and news waits for no man. Now we’ve got a huge backlog that will be presented in one massive digest post. So, let’s get this done.

Apply head to desk, lift, repeat as often as necessary… Thanks to Bric123 for the graphic. (And we thank AnotherBoomerBlog for making it available to us.

On November 24th, AnotherBoomerBlog’s Marsha Graham posted the following on her site.

What Would You Do If…

In it, she poses the question that we’ve been grappling with all along.

Welcome to the world of the Deaf in the criminal justice system in America.  So far as I can tell, there are a significant number of the deaf – perhaps as many as 20% – who are so incapable of understanding English and the concepts of Miranda as expressed in English that they were actually incapable of participating in their own defense and should never have been brought to trial. I’m not saying that they didn’t do whatever it was – maybe they did, maybe they didn’t – but even if they did, they were not competent to stand trial based on a lack of understanding.

***

Image of Glenn Langohr
Image courtesy of Glenn Langohr http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00571NY5A . (Don’t get scared. Guy’s really a teddy bear.)

Our newest contributor, Glenn Langohr put up a great editorial on Ezine @rticles. In No Taxes For New Prisons, he makes the point that so called tough on crime sentencing policies and mandates, make for a situation where we’re actually creating a criminal class instead of offering people a hand-up to getting their lives back on track.

[In his books, Glenn speaks of a fellow inmate he calls “Giant.” Well, if the guy in this picture calls another guy “Giant,” let’s just say I’d hate to get on the wrong side of that guy! 🙂 ]

With further awareness that non violent inmates, most for drug related crimes, are becoming institutionalized, where an addiction is bred into an affliction much harder to escape, where gangs and tattoos become the answer, spitting displaced, alienated inmates back into the neighborhood without any job placement or a new skill set, equals the need for more and more prisons. The public has had enough on both sides of the party lines with the majority of Democrats and Republicans voting more than 60% for sentence modification for crimes like shoplifting and other petty offenses, rather than increase taxes to build even more prisons. 70% said they would have no problem with early releases without sentencing modifications for non violent offenders a poll from Washington.

In California there are already 33 state prisons. The most in the nation. California also has the worst recidivism percentage in the nation with more than 70% of released inmates are back behind bars within three years. Nevada however, has the lowest rate of return for released prisoners because they have job placement into sanitation jobs upon their release.

***

English: Supermax prison, Florence Colorado Es...
Supermax prison, Florence Colorado (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the Denver Post, we get this:

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_22064773/supermax-prison-officials-move-address-mental-health-after?

Officials at the highest-security federal prison in America have taken steps to address mental- health issues among the prison’s inmates, following a lawsuit that accuses the government of indifference.

The changes at the administrative maximum prison in Florence, known as Supermax, started last summer, shortly after attorneys filed a lawsuit in Denver federal court on behalf of several inmates who say their mental illnesses are not being treated at the prison.

***

AlterNet did a report on a Montana man who received 80 years for growing medical marijuana, in a state where medical marijuana is legal. according to the report, he also had guns in his home, which is the sticking point for the DOJ, but both are legal in Montana. This story is a complex web of 2nd amendment issues conflicting with 10th amendment issues.  Here’s the link to AlterNet’s coverage.http://www.alternet.org/80-years-medical-pot-montana-mans-potential-sentence-sparks-outrage?akid=9737.79351.5dpRx-&rd=1&src=newsletter752671&t=9

***

We also get this story from AlterNet, but I know that both Solitary Watch and PrisonMovement’s Weblog have covered it.

In Washington state, an elementary school’s use of a padded isolation room is sparking controversy.

Image courtesy of AlterNet

Apparently, some schools in Washington State are using what is essentially solitary confinement to discipline certain special needs kids. The schools maintain that these devices are therapeutic for kids with autism and other learning disabilities. They claim that parental permission is required before the booths can be used.

Some parents disagree, and several have stated that their kids were put in the booth – or threatened with it – without parental permission. Regardless of all that, I see this as a clear cut illustration of the School to Prison Pipeline in action. By inuring students to solitary as punishment, we set them up to anticipate receiving similar treatment when they embark on their inevitable prison careers.

We’ve also seen commonalities between mistreatment of disabled students, including the Deaf, and an increased likelihood that those disabled students will end up in the system as adults – or even as older juveniles.

Again, here’s AlterNet’s link:

http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/isolation-rooms-elementary-schools-are-they-treatment-or-punishment?akid=9737.79351.5dpRx-&rd=1&src=newsletter752671&t=13

***

Image courtesy of Solitary Watch

Once again, the People’s Republic of Massachusetts  is on the bleeding edge of Human rights issues. According to Solitary Watch, a Massachusetts court ruled against solitary confinement without due process. This would turn California’s system on its ear. On November 27th, an inmate named LaChance won a lengthy court case. He had been sentenced to 2 weeks in solitary as punishment for a minor offense, but after the 2 weeks were up, the COs didn’t release him. Instead, they waited for action status.  LaChance remained in solitary for 10 months.

Here’s that link:

http://solitarywatch.com/2012/11/30/massachusetts-court-rules-against-solitary-confinement-without-due-process/

***

Documentary film director, Ken Burns has just completed a movie about the Central Park Five, which discusses how New York railroaded a group of innocent teens in what was called at the time, the crime of the century. AlterNet covers the story, here:

http://www.alternet.org/media/central-park-five-new-film-how-police-abuse-media-frenzy-led-jailing-innocent-teens?akid=9744.79351.2CHMbs&rd=1&src=newsletter753630&t=21

***

Now famous WikiLeaks suspect, Bradley Manning, while in solitary confinement attempted to use exercise and other techniques to cope with the overwhelming monotony in his bare, windowless cell. The authorities deemed these activities as signs of an impending suicide, and…

That night guards arrived at his cell and ordered him to strip naked. He was left without any clothes overnight, and the following morning made to stand outside his cell and stand to attention at the brig count, still nude, as officers inspected him.

The humiliating ritual continued for several days, and right until the day he was transferred from Quantico on 20 April 2011 he had his underwear removed every night. The brig authorities later stated that in their view the exceptional depriving of an inmate’s underpants was a necessary precaution, in the light of his ominous comments about using his underwear and flip-flops to harm himself.

More on this – again – by AlterNet:

http://www.alternet.org/world/bradley-manning-how-keeping-himself-sane-was-taken-proof-madness?akid=9744.79351.2CHMbs&rd=1&src=newsletter753630&t=17

***

Not By Bread Alone
http://www.nyuskirball.org/calendar/notbybreadalone

I received this via e-mail from James Ridgeway of Solitary Watch. The world’s only professional Deaf/blind theater troop performs a play while actually baking bread. They get up on stage and bake bread. Yes, you read that right. They bake bread – and while doing so – take the audience on a trip into the world of the Deaf/Blind. The show is receiving rave reviews. Here’s the link.

http://www.nyuskirball.org/calendar/notbybreadalone

***

MadMike’s America is my mentor site. When DeafinPrison.com get’s even 1/10th as big, I can die and go to Heaven. Here’s a post they did this week. A juvenile was driving under the influence, and had an accident. This resulted in the death of his passenger. The judge in the case ruled that the teen didn’t have to do time, but he would have to attend church every Sunday for the next 10 years. I’m not sure which is worse! Give me prison! Please!

Here’s MMA’s coverage:

http://madmikesamerica.com/2012/12/judge-sentences-convicted-felon-to-church-instead-of-prison/

***

Scientists are working on developing signs for some of their terminology, making it easier for Deaf students to learn. Prior to this, students and interpreters were forced to fingerspell out complex words like m-i-c-r-o-b-i-o-l-o-g-y. Now, there will be specialized ASL signs for those words. Here’s the link from the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/04/science/sign-language-researchers-broaden-science-lexicon.html?emc=tnt&tntemail1=y

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Still on top of things, Solitary Watch reports that the now infamous Tamms State Prison actually has more guards than inmates. Surprising in a country that is literally drowning in its immense prison population. Anyway, there are more guards than prisoners – and these guards are still racking up huge overtime. The end result is that Illinois is even broker than we previously suspected. The governor of the state has called for the closing of the facility, but he’s meeting resistance from AFSCME, the guards’ union. Here’s Solitary Watch’s link:

http://solitarywatch.com/2012/12/04/tamms-supermax-report-reveals-more-guards-than-prisoners-soaring-costs/

***

Whew! Well, that’s that. Let’s hope I can stay current with stuff, and not have to do this again.

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.

7 thoughts on “Another Digest Post

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