Deaf Community: Rehabilitation Over Retribution

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Life in Deaf community can be challenging, but it can be particularly harder for Deaf returnees whose bodies and minds are being pushed away by ignorance, bullying, and hatred. Deaf returnees serve the principal purposes of punishment: retribution, and rehabilitation. Whose old bones suffer from exile in Deaf community, who are forgetful, suffering human compassion, mocked, and ignored.

Ignorance does not make society safer. Ignorance hurts Deaf returnees, not dangerous people. Ignorance locks up Deaf returnees who have been convicted of a crime. Ignorance hurts vulnerable community that is known as Deaf returnee community, the world’s smallest human population.

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I lived 30 minutes from Mt. St. Helens, the famous eruption in 1980. I am also a Deaf returnee. I found myself in trouble with the law; I had to face my past. As a teenager in the small town in state of Washington during my junior high days, I suffered and experienced a horrible tragedy.

Now I am 43 years old. The horrible tragedy was 32 years ago. Stories from a time when as a child myself did not learn or taught lessons what was right and wrong who were responsible for my early learning.

A Greek philosopher, Aristotle once wrote, “Memory is the scribe of the soul.”—In this case, writing is the mirror to my soul and the doorway into my existence where I was told that in Deaf community, I do not exist.

I had thought when I traded my life as a dedicated suburbanite for a life in Deaf community I had experienced about as radical a transition as I would ever face. As you read this it is good to realize that empowering Deaf returnees is the highest human compassion. By all reports life behind the fence as Deaf returnee is very different, and is often a much more degrading and dangerous experience.

Malthus who was born in 1766 and died in 1834, he studied at Cambridge and was selected to be a fellow at Jesus College in 1793. Five years later, he published Essay on the Principle of Population in which he argued that population would outrun food supply and would increase population. My point is that Deaf returnees are hungry for circle of support, empowerment, compassion, and higher education in the eyes of human population.

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Do they deserve a second chance in Deaf community? Do they deserve being shunned? Rehabilitation should be number one priority over retribution in Deaf community.

 

-JT

Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier

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

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deaf Returnees: What Do They Return To?

DEAF LIFE has granted permission for me to share my article I wrote in December 2017 Issue.

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December is National Human Rights Month. In the Deaf community, we continue to work to eliminate hatred and bigotry, to strengthen relationships, and to foster greater understanding, inclusion, and justice for Deaf returnees–men and women who have served their prison sentences and are now returning to society and freedom. In doing so, the Deaf community should be supported by the principles embodied by human rights.

Ignoring their fate is not an option for anyone who believes Deaf returnees should be guaranteed basic human and civil rights. There are plenty of discriminatory policies against Deaf returnees that have persisted for years and years while going largely unreported as hate crimes.

With the support of Deaf people like us, we have documented and exposed multiple hate crimes and widespread violations of human rights in communication, knowledge, and information. We continue to expose incidents of hatred in the Deaf community that have all the hallmarks of language bigotry, to intensify pressure against discriminatory policies, and compel the Deaf community to impose sanction on perpetrators if the hatred continues.

The true stories of Deaf returnees have been too often hidden from the American people. They have been shamed and ignored for political reasons. Did the perpetrators encourage bullying tactics that tear Deaf returnees down? We must take bold action to defend human rights and the core values of democracy in supporting Deaf returnees. We are tired of being attacked, seeing the truth distorted, the media playing mind games, targeting Deaf returnees as scapegoats.

Terms such as ex-convict, felon, offender, and criminal are negative. The terms returning citizen and returnee are positive. 

Media images of Deaf returnees are all too often negative, grotesque, suggesting that they can’t survive in society, can’t turn their lives around, are incapable of giving back to the Deaf community. They are seen as unintelligent, sick, lazy, and not to be trusted. How could they succeed if they actually had to earn merit to advance in society? Why bother giving them second chances?

The U.S. leads the world in the proportion of prisoners to the free population. We comprise 5% of the world’s population, yet fully 25% of the world’s prison population. In other words, our nation has the highest prison population anywhere on the globe. Prisons are huge, profitable industries, generating 80 billion dollars a year. The systematic denial of providing resources and opportunities to help Deaf returnees after years of incarceration and brutal oppression is the issue here.

Denying Deaf returnees a chance to rejoin the Deaf community as contributing citizens is a crime. Many of them are barely surviving as second-class citizens. Many struggle with poor literacy, as they may not have been able to take advantage of educational programs offered to hearing prisoners, counseling, mental-health services, or job training.

There are innovative halfway program that teach soon-to-be-released inmates vital skills. But many Deaf inmates do not have access to these. They may have tremendous difficulty finding places to live. Some have no families; others have been banished from their families. And some returnees can’t be released unless they have a definite place to go.

As if all this were not enough, we know that they often have difficulty finding jobs. Once released into society, they are all too often subjected to harassment and discrimination in the job market. Unemployment among Deaf returnees is approximately three times as wide-spread as among hearing returnees. There’s a “Ban the Box” campaign–removing the box as in background check–to give them a better chance of finding employment, a vital part of rebuilding their lives.

Our society should be motivated to reduce recidivism. But we know that many Deaf returnees cannot easily adjust to being free once again; they have a hard time turning their lives around and finding healing. Many have struggled to find Deaf-centric counseling because of lack of health or medical insurance.

Every day, returnees’ human rights are being violated. They are denied access to higher education, they’re shunned by society because they can’t be “cured”. They’re kept invisible. The stigma they experience is deeply rooted in the sense of struggle, a fear of being silenced. How would it be if Deaf returnees were no longer a marginalized group–and will never be forsaken–due to our relentless resistance, reporting, and advocacy? I’d say we’d have a much better, more peaceful, more productive society.

What can we do to increase awareness about the rights that Deaf returnees share with free people?

Subscribe DEAF LIFE. www.deaflife.com  where I write as a regular contributor.

-JT

Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier

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

Dwight Benedict: Stop the Practice of Discrimination, Shaming, and Cruel Punishment