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Deaf Gay Man Sues D.C. Jail For Mistreatment

VIDEO: Deaf gay man alleges mistreatment at D.C. jail.

WASHINGTON, DC - A former inmate in the District of Columbia correctional system is suing the city for alleged mistreatment. The D.C. man is Deaf, and the lawsuit claims he was unable to effectively communicate during his period of confinement. It also alleges his treatment got worse when he complained.

44-year-old William Pierce is profoundly Deaf. He wound up with a 60-day sentence in the city's correction system after an altercation with his partner resulted in a conviction for simple assault.

At the order of the judge, Pierce actually wound up in the Correctional Treatment Facility to get help. The CTF adjoins the city jail.

Arthur Spitzer, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation's Capital, said in an interview: "There was no interpreter there for [Pierce] at intake, or at any of his medical appointments, he had some medical problems or at any of his classes. He was taking an anger management class, and he didn't know what was going on. He didn't know what people were saying. He couldn't participate in the group discussion(s)."

The lawsuit says, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, accommodations for the Deaf must be made so inmates can communicate. Things got worse for William Pierce when he complained, according to his attorney. ... Read more:

Washington Blade - Gay Deaf man sues city for mistreatment.

WASHINGTON, DC - In a lawsuit filed in federal court on Feb. 1, a former D.C. jail inmate who’s Deaf and gay, accuses the city’s Department of Corrections of engaging in disability-related discrimination by refusing to provide him basic services required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

William Pierce, 44, who was sentenced to two months in a city jail for an assault conviction, charges in the lawsuit that jail officials repeatedly refused to provide a sign language interpreters as required by law and retaliated against him for complaining about his conditions by placing him in solitary confinement.

Pierce, who has HIV, was given only three of the four HIV medications he had been taking at home and was unable to understand why prison doctors changed his medication regimen because of the lack of a sign language interpreter, the lawsuit says.

It says the emotional distress Pierce suffered due to the alleged discriminatory treatment was heightened when jail guards handcuffed him shortly before his mother arrived for a visit, preventing him from communicating with her in sign language.

The District of Columbia needs to be held accountable for its outright discrimination and reminded that people with disabilities cannot just be locked away and ignored,” said Arthur Spitzer, legal director of the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital, which filed the lawsuit on Pierce’s behalf in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Spitzer said most of the alleged discriminatory actions against Pierce took place at the D.C. Jail’s Correctional Treatment Facility. The CTF is operated by the Corrections Corporation of America, a private company under contract with the city.

“D.C., in turn, needs to hold the Corrections Corporation of America accountable for its continued disregard for the wellbeing of the individuals the city has placed in its care,” Spitzer said in a statement. ... Read more:
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