Civil Rights OF Deaf Inmates: What You Can Do

By McWilson, Jack | American Jails, July/August 2017 | Go to article overview

Civil Rights OF Deaf Inmates: What You Can Do


McWilson, Jack, American Jails


Over the past 40 years, Congress has enacted numerous laws specifically designed to ensure that disabled individuals have access to the communication services, programs, activities, public facilities, and other resources that are available to the general population. Specifically, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 794, guarantees persons with disabilities equal access to any entity that receives Federal financial assistance, either directly or indirectly. In addition, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12141 et seq., extends these same rights to inmates in all State and local facilities. Under these two laws, the standards of accessibility ensure that equal communication access and functional equivalency are provided to deaf inmates.

Recognizing a Communication Dilemma

Because the necessary technology resources are often unknown to them, jail officers, sheriffs, and administrators are frequently confused on how to meet the communication needs of the deaf inmate. As a result, deaf inmates may be denied access to the telephone network, even though they have constitutional and statutory rights to the same equal access as other inmates. When communication services are available to other inmates, but the jail fails to provide the accommodations necessary to make the same services available to deaf individuals, it becomes liable for failing to provide equal access.

Most notably, in 2015, a New York City woman who is deaf said NYPD officers wrongfully arrested her, then ignored her pleas for an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter. The woman settled her lawsuit against the city for $750,000-a sum her attorney said was the largest deaf discrimination settlement ever awarded to a single person. The officers in this case ignored police guidelines regarding how to handle the deaf, and in doing so violated the ADA.

In another lawsuit, a deaf Ethiopian immigrant in 2014 spent six weeks in a U.S. ... jail, during which he a was not allowed to make phone calls. His lawsuit against the sheriff's office settled for $250,000.

Meeting the Needs of Deaf Inmates

Compliance requirements are now mandated by the ADA and PREA. Court settlement amounts against prisons and jails that did not provide deaf inmates with access to make their legally entitled telephone calls have totaled in the millions. In the wake of these lawsuits, many jails are now re-evaluating their communication services that are available to the deaf.

TTY, once considered the legally accepted standard, is now an out-of-date and noncompliant technology that increases a jail's legal risk. It has been replaced by the video relay service (VRS), a newer video-based technology that seamlessly relays a video call between a deaf individual and a hearing person via an interpreter. Implementing residential VRS in jails for use by deaf inmates does meet the ADA requirement; however, it also introduces a significant security threat akin to providing a video phone to all inmates.

Residential VRS is a FCC-regulated service that provides people who are deaf or hard of hearing (HoH) with equal access to the public telephone network. Available for free to any qualifying deaf or HoH person using ASL, the service requires a video terminal, a broadband internet connection, and an account with a residential VRS provider. The residential VRS system enables a deaf person to communicate with a hearing telephone user via an ASL interpreter. The interpreter is positioned in the communication path between the deaf person and the hearing person. On one side, the interpreter communicates with the deaf person using a video terminal. On the other side, the interpreter communicates with the hearing person via a telephone. The VRS interpreter repeats exactly what is said by each party.

The introduction of a residential VRS into a jail- without a managed-access front end system-has the potential for unrestricted illegal activity. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Civil Rights OF Deaf Inmates: What You Can Do
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.