Saturday, August 18, 2007

Warrior for the Deaf

I received a 25 page letter (!@!%#$!!!) from Dad yesterday. He has been in solitary confinement since Christian and I saw him in July for assaulting an officer. He insists the guard is trumping up charges and instigated the entire incident in the first place. Dad has become a "warrior for the deaf [inmates]" and spends most of his day in the library researching laws, the ADA and helping the other deaf inmates file grievances against the TDCJ.

Dad thinks the guard got him thrown into solitary for causing the guards grief in this regard and his punishment is excessive. Now, I know Dad places blame on everyone else for all of his troubles including, sadly, the two women he tried to kill: my mom in '88 and Gloria* in '02. But in this instance, I don't think Dad is entirely off base. Two main reasons:

(1) There are lots of documented cases in Texas and the US about deaf inmates not receiving fair or adequate treatment behind bars;

(2) During our first ever visit to see Dad, Christian had a long chat with a new guard, a very young man who wanted to pay his way through college. This guard was very well spoken, intelligent and seemed out of place entirely and told Christian in summary, "The inmates aren't the ones I'm afraid of; it's the guards." He said the guards definitely are mentally and physically abusive to the inmates and it worried him because the guards are so outnumbered.

Not really the kind of thing you want to hear from someone who is talking about the guards in charge of your own pop.

Regarding item #1, I found some excellent articles online at the Oxford Journals of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. I was interested in research performed by Dr. Katrina Miller, in particular, as she has written articles pertaining to Deaf inmates. Further research led me to a book she published in 2003 based on this research titled Deaf Culture Behind Bars which includes interviews of Deaf inmates in, where else? Texas. I ordered a copy for myself and one for Dad. I'm sure he'll know many of the inmates she interviewed but it is highly doubtful that he's one of them as I believe her research was conducted just prior to Dad getting thrown in the clink. I also tracked her down at her current University and sent her an email. I hope she replies.

As for Dad's self-annointed title of "Warrior for the Deaf," it really makes me happy. I like knowing that he's investing his time in a more positive way and putting his intelligence and energy toward the greater good of helping Deaf inmates. Sure there's the motivation to help himself but isn't there often a selfish reason for being unselfish?


Anonymous said...

Many thanks for sharing your daddy's crusade in helping out deaf inmates.

Your daddy could be seen as some kind of paternalistic which he probably have the sense of duty to correct such imjustices being done to the deaf inmates.

At least, your dad definitely have a good heart to sense wbat is really going wrong with the jail system.

I hope that your dad will also focus on his legal case to get out of the jail.

I would not be surprised that the guards and police officers for trumping up the charges against your dad. Unforunately, your dad have a past criminal history to question whether he is telling the truth or not.

I was once falsely accused for not what I have done anything unlawful. The police officers rather trump up charges to cover up their own mistakes like arresting me first about telling me what was going on.

I always thought that the police officers were fair-minded and honest. Not all of them!

Sadly, deaf inmates in our country, have been deprived of their legal rights and other acccessibility means.

Thanks again for your blog piece on your daddy's zest to help out deaf inmates. I hope that his legal case will get the fair judical proceedings.

Robert L. Mason (RLM)

Anonymous said...

First of all, I did not realize that your dad, "Cigo", is really deaf himself.

If not for reading previous posts remained on your blog website. I would never know about your dad being deaf.

I also admire your willingness to post tragic family problems in real honest way.

I hope that your dad, "Cigo", will be alright within his jail stay. Cigo ought to realize his violent behavior to be totally unacceptable and seeks the anger management counseling.

Is there any qualified counselor or social worker or pastor fluent in American Sign Language at the jail site or from the local municipal?

Have you read the inspired story about two Baltimore disadvantaged teenagers engaged in school-sponsored debate tournaments largely focused on the issue of pentitinary system. Both teenagers eloqouently discussed that the current prison system equaled to the form of modern slavery by imprisoning the prisoners and deny their libertiies. Teenagers favor the community programs to help prisoners to lead productive life, etc.

Here is a magazine article, "Arguing for the Future" from the Washington Post magazine, 8/26/07, by Karen Houppert. Okay?

Congrats on your successful career as an entertainment/newsreporting career.

Robert L. Mason (RLM)

Anonymous said...

NAD's Law Center answers letters from deaf inmates; try reaching Rosaline Crawford or Marc Charmatz (the attorneys there) for further assistance.

Patty said...

This is amazing! Why isn't it in a book form?

Anonymous said...

No doubt deaf prisoners have it a lot harder than hearing inmates, almost like being doubly jailed. I'll never forget when I was editor of Silent News and we received a letter from a deaf inmate who said he was going to kill himself to protest the conditions for deaf inmates at his prison. We immediately called the prison, but it was too late. He was gone.

Kambri said...

Thanks everybody for your comments and suggestions!

RLM: They do have an interpreter at his facility but, as for counseling and classes, Dad doesn't take any.

I hadn't read that article yet but will be sure to check it out. The book from Dr. Miller just arrived in the mail today, so I'm very anxious to read it.

Anonymous: Thanks for the lead. I had contacted NAD thru their website but it's very helpful to have specific names.

Patty: I'm writing a book proposal now! Wish me luck and I hope you'll buy it. =O)

Anonymous said...

It was pretty unusual to read about the jailed deaf father. I appreciate you being honest and being willing to share your story. It is amazing how you overcame so much to be where you are at. Best wishes to you.

Anonymous said...


i stumbled across your blog about a year ago and read the whole thing A to Z. you are a beautiful writer, with just the right amount of wit and sarcasm to keep me smiling.

i am very glad that i stumbled across your blog again. are you writing a book right now?

i sent your blog to my mother, i think that she would have a lot in common with you. imma coda, she's a coda too (my dad is deaf). i just think that you do a good job of telling the truth of your childhood, as much as it fucking sucked - but it was also peppered with some beautiful fond memories.

smooches. i will stop by again,