Deaf Prisoners Lost In The System: Writing Grievances to Save Themselves

Committing a crime, being falsely accused or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time can land you a seat in prison. Prison is a nightmare. It has never been described as a pleasant experience. While some individuals feel that they were given the opportunity to rehabilitate in prison, others felt completely left behind. Should the system ensure that people with disabilities are given the same advantages as all other inmates? Should some inmates be treated differently than others?

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The Americans with Disabilities Act protects people with disabilities in public spaces and defends their right to equal access. In order to have equal access, assistive devices or modifications must be made. Some would say it is unfair while others believe it is the only way to achieve equality.

Deaf In Prison

A former inmate of the Georgia state prison system named Jerry Coen faced a very difficult time in prison as a deaf man. He describes a communication breakdown started from the moment he entered the prison. He was unable to hear the loudspeaker and there was no one available who could speak sign language. The 44-year-old deaf man was released and is now suing the system claiming that he suffered and was consistently denied basic civil rights for an individual with disabilities.

Suing The System

Willful neglect and mistreatment have consistently been a part of the prison system. Is there any justification for denying all of Jerry Coens grievances and motions to provide him with assistive devices? Do the other inmates support helping him communicate? Are human rights violated so often that people found this acceptable? The prison system is unusual but Jerry Coen got his day in court. He was able to bring up a number of issues and highlight the problems at the prison through his personal grievances.

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