The Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) and other officials have been sued in regards to a claim, stating the “rights of deaf state prison inmates are being violated”, according to information provided, by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and a Washington-based law firm filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia on Friday, January 29, 2010.
The suit reportedly alleged that deaf prisoners held at the Powhatan Correctional Center did not have “adequate access to sign-language interpreters, visual notifications of safety announcements, and devices that would allow them to communicate with family and friends outside the prison”. The Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects disabled persons from bias in regards to disability, was reportedly not being followed, subsequently resulting in violations of the inmates’ constitutional rights. It is also reported that since deaf prisoners are held at the medium-security Powhatan Correctional Center, inmates cannot be moved to a lower-security penitentiary, even if they are technically eligible to do so.
A sign-language interpreter is allegedly provided for the 15 to 20 inmates one a week for a total of six hours, consequently leaving deaf prisoners unable to partake in educational programs, communicate with prison employees or comprehend the medical workforce. Also since no visual notifications are allegedly provided, inmates can miss important safety warnings or announcements, leaving them susceptible to injury or harm if they were to miss a fire alarm, for instance.
Legal News Reporter: Sandra Quinlan- Legal News for Virginia Lawyers.
– From JusticeNewsFash.com 2/4/10, http://www.justicenewsflash.com/index.php?s=Deaf+Inmates.
Note: This article was also published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on February 2, 2009, http://www.richmond.com/news/article_6ee35725-735d-577b-99e2-4d589850de97.html.