Deaf Returnees: Helping Them Through PTSD

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The adage that there is no perfect machine holds true from a Jack-in-the-Box to the criminal justice system. What can Deaf inmates and returnees broken by this system hope to achieve during June, which is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) awareness month?

Especially when this awareness reach extends deeply into the Deaf community to places needing empowerment, healing, and positive steps? What resolution can empower Deaf returnees to build learning, healthy and safe spaces?

Imagine the stories of Deaf inmates and Deaf returnees, their hearts shattering under the fiber of social rejection. Even while they are making a positive change to share their experiences to overcome the depression, they experience bullying, humiliation, and surmounting hardships; the toughest thing.

I believe that there are high and unreported PTSD cases by Deaf inmates and Deaf returnees that the social media needs to acknowledge. The sweeping impact of ignoring Deaf simply for who they are, and the lack of awareness, is not felt enough in the criminal justice system. Just like the marginalization of Deaf returnees in Deaf community, why are they being singled out?

While the United States has put more people in prison than any other country, it does not have resources to help Deaf returnees rebuild their lives once they are released. While there is a growing need, there is also a forgotten movement to end mass incarceration to reduce recidivism. Deaf returnees need inspiration and guidance.

Deaf returnees who are in search of rebuilding lives are at once faced with overcoming steep economic hardship, systematic privileges, unemployment, and lastly, PTSD. Changing the pattern across the country would help Deaf returnees successfully transition from inmate to returnee life on the outside.

The Second Chance Act of 2007, which is having a difficult time getting funding, would most likely hurt Deaf returnees in the long run. Why? So, Deaf returnees would be able to get help and learn how to develop healthy thinking patterns.

One bit of critical information here. Not empowering Deaf returnees enough can become frightfully expensive and mentally taxing. Empowering Deaf returnees would require intimate examination of the territory of their lives and not just a perception of its surface, incorporating new knowledge into other knowledge;

Empowering is a good investment, and the supporters’ efforts pay off. Empowering would gain intellectual and emotional agility and strength so needed in society.

-JT

Copyright © 2019 Jason Tozier

This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.

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Deafhood Foundation: A Criminal Record Shouldn’t Define Your Entire Existence

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Deafhood Foundation writes, Your donation will help end the economic exploitation of Deaf people, support anti-audism work, and create a society where everyone experiences full humanity and celebrates American Sign Language and Deaf culture.”

I have had been thinking about this for a while. For the last eight years, I have had invested a lot of heart and believability in Deafhood Foundation after reading Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood written by Paddy Ladd. The book arrived at my apartment in Portland, Oregon in April 2010 and I finished that book on the same day. It was mind-blowing experience. As soon as I finished that book, I remember calling up a friend who was one of certified Deafhood presenters and had brief discussion about it. I understood the magnitude of healing. That was the goal.

Two weeks after finishing that book, I was walking on Hawthorne Street in Portland, one of the famous streets, most laid-back streets, and there was a tattoo shop, and I decided to walk in and asked them to give me a tattoo, ‘Deafhood’ on my left arm where it ends up being first Deaf person to have ‘Deafhood’ in America. I was very proud of it.

Fast forward. June 2011. I was awarded with three degrees with honors. I worked very hard as Deaf returnee. I remember that day when I was released from jail in 1996, I told myself; I will never look back and make a huge difference in future. Day after day, year after year, I had no guidance, no space to call my own, or where to go. It was very difficult to deal with. I was separated from friends and Deaf community. I refused to be the scapegoat.

Couple of years later, a Deaf person informed me that the board position was open on the same day, and I immediately became interested in board position. I contacted one of the founding board members for Deafhood Foundation, and the board member said to me that I would not be welcomed on the board and I was devastated more than anything in my life all because I am a Deaf returnee. WITHOUT due process or screened—nothing just like that. Just right on spot right there. I was completely surprised and hurt, too.

It was a major discriminatory. I was surprised that the founding board member signed to me that I’d be “frustrated” and knew that it was discriminating against its own Deaf member in Deaf community. It was a huge blow. It shows that Deafhood Foundation does not support recidivism in Deaf community.

When I had to re-read the book by Paddy Ladd, I realized that the book does not support Deaf returnees either. If less than 0.00000005 percent of Deaf returnees suffering today—the truth supported by lack of awareness, the support matters, and goes a long way, How can we improve this conscious?

Think about emotional and physical impact that has gone deep enough to deal with struggles, with the capacity to think strong that has stored enough. Thought-provoking adventures. I live by reading books doing everything I can to make a living on the streets, and effectively deal with a world that most of us would never understand would never understand what it is like or known about. I often wonder about discovering the origin of life.

It will make a big impact of the overall quality of life. Can we articulate the specific needs of empowerment by building bridges to Deaf community? Maya Angelou once said, “When people show you who they are, believe them”—that’s where it starts right there.

So, why not Deafhood Foundation supports Deaf returnees? The “philosophy” of Deafhood Foundation in the broadest sense, ignoring a barrier repertoire—stories, literacy expressions and the like—against Deaf returnees whose forms of expressions exert upon them.

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Where are the tears of joy—and tears of pride? Having being “incarcerated” since my early teen years, I had ever experienced a pursuit of happiness before and never thought I would have that opportunity, my young adulthood forever lost. Deaf returnees do not given a second chance as “productive contributor” to Deaf community.

Deafhood Foundation, where is the compassion and willingness about Deaf returnees to put their lives on the line for others is deeply rooted in their own struggles for being given the opportunity for redemption and for being welcomed back into society?

In Paddy’s Corner: Dr. Ladd coined the word “Deafhood” to describe positive ways of being Deaf in spite of the discrimination and oppression, and to present a framework to understand our past, work within the present, and plan for the future.”

What about the positive framework to understand Deaf returnees’ past, work with the present, and plan for the future to focus on positive ways of being Deaf in spite of the discrimination and oppression every day?

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Few months ago, when I attended as lone Deaf attendee for ACLU National Conference in Washington, D.C.—I saw a powerful image that says I believe a criminal record shouldn’t define your entire existence”—sadly, Deafhood Foundation does not see that way that it would always define your entire existence forever because Deaf community is small–and quickly judged by its looks and books.

-JT

Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier

This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.

 

 

 

ACLU: Hate Crime Exist in Deaf Community

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As a Deaf person who had supported American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for years had walked through ACLU’s conference 2018 in Washington, D.C. with thousands and thousands of people, after I walked through and met some coolest ACLU state chapters, and national members you’ve ever seen.

This is what it feels like when you understand your rights feel worth every minute, when the conference starts, when there is an opportunity right there. This is what it feels like when you feel empowered. In the last 22 years of being a Deaf returnee, has been shackling to a cruel and unusual punishment in the eye of United States Constitution, Eighth Amendment.

I was a Gallaudet University graduate student with full scholarship. I was expelled from Gallaudet University for my 32 years ago wrongdoing and mistake. That is when I was 12 years old kid. Just a fucking kid. 32 years ago. I was wrong what I did. Come on! How can it be in the name of truth by figuring out the solution, second-chances upon a potentially far more healthy discourse for Deaf community?

How come the cruel punishment continue to fail to meet the lowest acceptable standards of human fairness, why Deaf community in America spent decades in defending and speaking out against injustice, Audism—when is a hate crime a hate crime? When it is a crime of hate, or when the media say it is not?

And if the society are to be the arbiters of what is, or not, a hate crime, who will judge Deaf people without bias? Is Deaf community the last hope resort?

When society took the dominance over Deaf people’s turfism, the screaming pain in the early days of cruel punishment, Deaf people became the target for the society that could not escape the hate. Whether Deaf people’s traumas can ever truly overcome. The answers offer is in denial, deeply rooted in lies and empty my heart out. The name of truth will ever be seen.

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There are two important amendments to the United States Constitution that help to explain the rights of Deaf community.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Here is the breakdown: freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, freedom to petition.

The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; or shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal when accused of wrongdoing. Due process means the Gallaudet University cannot give you a serious punishment, like suspension or expulsion, without first having followed fair procedures to determine if you are guilty.

If you are found guilty of something, the punishment cannot be more serious than the misconduct was. If Gallaudet chooses to punish you, it must punish all others the same. I continue to “speak up, speak out!” Gallaudet needs change now. Be bold, be changed, and be heard!

In Gallaudet University, most of the people around are totally unaware that there is any problem at Gallaudet University. Talk about it more! Get other interested and concerned for the Deaf in their struggle for social justice. One day to complete my dream to give lecture for ACLU about hate crimes in Deaf community.

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-JT

Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier

This text may be freely copied in its entirely only including this copyright message.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Change of Heart in Deaf Community

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Yale Law School. 2014. 

It does not matter if Deaf returned citizen deserves a second chance in life. They focus on being good citizens and neighbors or yours and mine. The term “returned citizen” in the way the society is always in the ‘current tense’ and not the ‘past tense’—why is that? The answer lies in the greatest assumptions that formed in the rumor-mill community—Deaf community. That is to be said that it is trash in—-trash out. The society is a myth and bullshit had more weight than facts and forgotten stories on Deaf returned citizens.

Remember the old days in 1950s and 1960s, East Germany, a very highly police state—that was enforced into strict laws and codes for its citizens to follow such as early curfew, neighbors were actually forced to spy on one another, prohibition on foreign travel even free political speech was something that would get you killed. Back in that time, East Germany’s criminal justice system would get people killed even if they’re innocent or even for minor crimes as kids.

That is the old dilemma of the balance between dealing and understanding freedom and at the same time, minimizing crime. It is very difficult to understand this. Of course, I completely understand that in a society that a freedom is maximized. Deaf returned citizens are free to do good things. I’ve paid my debt to the society as a young and lost kid 31 years ago, and that is what a self-healing society is all about.

Of course, it is very difficult to understand that a free and healthy society that would forgive people who had committed a bad act. I know the feeling. I really do! Imagine a self-healing society that teaches freedom—for everyone, including Deaf returned citizens, at the same time, think about the self-healing society that has been interrupted by rumormongers—again at the same time, I deserve to resume a life of freedom.

I believe in the full circle of healing to occur anytime, anywhere. It is the forgiveness that is the missing component here in America with respect to help healing the wounds in the society. Do Deaf Americans do can better than to treat Deaf returned citizens with contempt and hate? It is about the matter of healthy society. Can we show the world that we are committed to understand Deaf returned citizens’ struggling stories where they are often ignored and rejected from the society?

-JT 

Copyright © 2017 Jason Tozier

This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.