CREECblog

Press Release: Broncos Stadium at Mile High Expands Services for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Fans with Open Captioning Service

For Immediate Release

Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019
Denver Broncos Football Club: Seth Medvin
Seth.Medvin@broncos.nfl.net/720-391-4033 cell
CREEC: Amy Robertson 303-917-1870

BRONCOS STADIUM AT MILE HIGH EXPANDS SERVICES FOR
DEAF & HARD OF HEARING FANS WITH OPEN CAPTIONING SERVICE

Measures result from collaboration with deaf patron and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center

DENVER — Stadium Management Company (SMC), the Metropolitan Football Stadium District (MFSD) and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) announced on Thursday that Broncos Stadium at Mile High will expand its services for deaf & hard of hearing fans by providing open captioning on its LED ribbon boards.

Fully operational for stadium events, the open captioning service will be displayed on three LED boards at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Two boards are located on the southeast and southwest side adjacent to the Ring of Fame nameplates and one is on the northwest corner of the stadium.

Broncos Stadium at Mile High already provides closed captioning services for fans’ mobile devices and on assistive listening devices available for checkout from guest relations staff. In conjunction with CREEC and Kirstin Kurlander Garcia, a deaf sports fan and stadium patron, the stadium will now caption information spoken over the public address system on the LED boards.

The open captioning service will be used at Broncos home games, Denver Outlaws Major League Lacrosse games and other major stadium events (international soccer games, AMA Supercross, etc.). For more information about how the Broncos support and service deaf & hard of hearing fans, please visit www.broncosstadiumatmilehigh.com/stadium-information/guest-information.

ABOUT CREEC:

The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) is a nonprofit membership organization whose goal is to ensure that everyone can fully and independently participate in our nation’s civic life without discrimination.  http://creeclaw.org

Who is impacted by ICE’s disregard of medical, mental health, and disability needs of detained immigrants? Too many people. CREEC and others are working to put an end to it.

A refugee from Sudan, Hamida Ali has a mental disability and a history of suicide attempts. Despite this, Ms. Ali was left in a dorm by herself with no other detained individuals or guards for nine months, exacerbating her symptoms.

 

Edilberto Garcia Guerrero experiences chronic headaches and pain in his neck, shoulder, ear, and eye. He also has diminished vision and hearing. These all stem from an assault he suffered in ICE custody and have not been addressed by medical staff. Mr. Guerrero previously had reconstructive ankle surgery after falling off a roof. He fell in ICE custody while in ankle cuffs, causing the breakage or dislocation of screws from his previous surgery. Mr. Guerrero is still waiting for surgery.

These are just two people among the 15 individual plaintiffs and two organizational plaintiffs, Al Otro Lado and Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice, named in a nationwide federal class action lawsuit filed on August 19, 2019 by  CREEC, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe, LLP.

And our plaintiffs are not alone in suffering at the hands of ICE and their contractors. On any given day, about 55,000 people are being held in ICE custody.  Last year, ICE detained a total of almost 400,000 immigrants. The Trump administration has funneled record numbers of immigrants into ICE prisons across America, subjecting thousands of men and women to in horrific, inhumane conditions in repurposed prisons and jails. These men and women are asylum seekers, longtime American residents, military veterans, teenagers, and refugees, among others.

“In two years of investigating conditions for people in ICE custody, it became clear to us at CREEC that this is essentially a massive prison system – people report shockingly similar poor conditions across the country. As a result, we decided to take on the system as a whole,” said Liz Jordan, director of CREEC’s Immigrant Detention Accountability Program.

Many of these facilities are operated by private, for-profit prison companies that charge an average of $208 per day for each person in their custody – more than double the $99 per day that the Federal Bureau of Prisons spends to incarcerate people convicted of federal crimes, according to that agency’s latest published statistics. At least 26 people have died while being held in ICE custody since Trump took office.

This suit – filed on August 19, 2019 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California –charges that ICE’s systemic failures violate the Fifth Amendment and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The complaint (found in full on CREEC’s case page) details how individuals in ICE custody are being denied health care, are facing discrimination due to their disabilities and being refused accommodations, and are being subjected to harmful isolation that amounts to punishment.

In this lawsuit, CREEC and our co-counsel seek an order requiring the federal government to comply with constitutional and statutory requirements for the treatment of detained immigrants. Government officials have long known about these inhumane conditions and the neglect of those in ICE custody, a situation that has worsened under President Trump’s policies. The mistreatment of sick and detained immigrants with disabilities was detailed in a report released in June by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General. It revealed that ICE has continued to violate its own standards for facilities housing detained individuals. The suits seeks class action status so that any court rulings will apply to all facilities where ICE chooses to incarcerate people.

The named plaintiffs in this suit are detained at eight different facilities in six states: Adelanto Detention Center and Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center in California; Florence Correctional Center in Arizona; Teller County Jail and Aurora Contract Detention Facility in Colorado; LaSalle ICE Processing Center in Louisiana; Etowah County Detention Center in Alabama; and Stewart Detention Center in Georgia.

The organizational plaintiffs in this suit have had to divert resources away from their missions to instead support immigrants struggling to survive in detention.  For example, Al Otro Lado is a non-profit organization that provides pro bono legal services to immigrants, but has had to help them fight for medical and mental health care instead of fighting their cases. The Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice is dedicated to advocating for immigrant communities, but has had to hire staff and set up emergency protocols to help detained immigrants access adequate care.

Inhumane Conditions

ICE oversees a network of approximately 158 detention facilities across the country, where immigrants who are facing civil charges encounter cruel and abusive conditions that mirror – or are worse than – those found in criminal prisons.

And they are met with indifference when seeking medical and mental health care. Their complaints are frequently ignored or mocked by guards and staff.

“Guards told me it was better to be alone. It made me feel like no one cares about me. It was not better for me to be alone. I was living with my thoughts. I thought I was going to die,” said Hamida Ali, a plaintiff in Colorado. “Being in solitary can cause you so much distress. Especially people with disabilities. And that’s not okay.”

At least half of ICE’s detention bed capacity is at facilities operated by for-profit prison companies including CoreCivic or GEO Group. Both companies have a long history of refusing to provide adequate medical care to prisoners in their facilities. “However, despite knowing the inherent risks of contracting with private prison corporations, ICE continues to entrust them with the care of an ever-growing number of detained individuals,” the lawsuit states.

“ICE cannot simply contract with third parties to operate its detention centers and then wash its hands of the deplorable, unlawful conditions in those detention centers,” said CREEC’s Tim Fox, co-executive director and a lead attorney on this case.

Restrictive segregation

According to the lawsuit, some detained immigrants have been forced into segregation after expressing suicidal thoughts – a tactic that only exacerbates their symptoms as they remain in total isolation for days, weeks or even months.

Others suffer from extreme mental illness but are thrown into segregation to languish alone when they need treatment to address their mental health concerns. Some are even confined simply for “clowning around,” a 2018 Human Rights Watch reported.

One plaintiff is diagnosed with schizophrenia but was placed alone in a dorm for nearly nine months, 24 hours a day. Despite a history of suicidal ideations and thoughts of self-harm, she was isolated with no opportunity for interaction with others. When she expressed that she was actively suicidal, a guard simply told her, “Don’t say that,” and did nothing further.

Consequences of Inadequate Care

Another plaintiff, Marco Montoya Amaya has experienced severe memory loss and other cognitive symptoms after he did not receive treatment for a brain parasite. And Ruben Mencias Soto, who has extreme difficulty walking, had his wheelchair taken away for over a month, making it impossible for him to make the long walk to the cafeteria. He went without food on the several days officers refused to let other detained individuals bring his meals to his cell.

The plaintiffs in this case also include people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) whose conditions have deteriorated since being in detention.

In the four facilities inspected by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and described in their June report, investigators found that problems went beyond overly restrictive segregation and inadequate medical care. Nooses were found in cells, bathrooms were dilapidated, moldy and sometimes not working, security incidents went unreported, and there were significant food safety issues, including spoiled food, that put detainees at risk. OIG’s inspection included Adelanto, Aurora, and LaSalle— all facilities where our plaintiffs are currently detained.

Counter-therapeutic conditions

A 2019 Disability Rights California (DRC) investigation found that immigration enforcement policies implemented in recent years created a huge spike in detained individuals with disabilities.

“Most notable is the January 2017 Presidential order that terminated the exercise of ‘prosecutorial discretion’ for people with disabilities and other special populations,” the report said. “There has also been a dramatic rise in the detention of asylum seekers, who often carry with them experiences of trauma and have significant mental health needs,”

DRC found that ICE’s Adelanto facility uses counter-therapeutic practices, underreports data on the number of suicide attempts, and fails to comply with anti-discrimination laws or ICE standards when dealing with people with disabilities.

One plaintiff, Luis Rodriguez Delgadillo, is currently being held at Adelanto suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. But his diagnoses are not being treated properly. His mental health has severely worsened while in ICE custody—he does not receive therapy and his medications changed, causing his mental health to deteriorate without needed support. He has expressed suicidal thoughts and harmful ideation.

“It is time for ICE to do what it should have been doing for years – to oversee and monitor its immigration detention centers, and to take effective measures to stop long-standing patterns of unlawful and unconstitutional conditions of confinement that place detainees at significant risk of harm,” Fox said.

 

 

Press Release: Civil Rights Groups Charge that ICE Disregards Immigrants’ Medical, Mental Health Needs and Ignores Discrimination Against Immigrants with Disabilities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 19, 2019

Civil Rights Groups Charge that ICE Disregards Immigrants’ Medical, Mental Health Needs and Ignores Discrimination Against Immigrants with Disabilities

New Nationwide Class Action Lawsuit Highlights Abusive Isolation, Horrific Medical and Mental Health Care, and Denial of Accommodations to and Discrimination

Against Detained Immigrants with Disabilities

Los Angeles —A nationwide class action lawsuit was filed today against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and others acting in their official capacities.  The lawsuit challenges the federal government’s failure to ensure detained immigrants receive appropriate medical and mental health care, its punitive use of segregation in violation of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and its failure to ensure that detained immigrants with disabilities are provided accommodations and do not face discrimination as required by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The lawsuit was filed by Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC), Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in the U.S District Court for the Central District of California. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of 15 individuals detained at eight different facilities in six states, representing a class of approximately 55,000 immigrants imprisoned by ICE on any given day, and two nonprofit organizations, Al Otro Lado and the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ICIJ).

The lawsuit challenges ICE’s systemic failures to enforce constitutional and statutory requirements at the approximately 158  facilities across the country where people in immigrant detention are held, resulting in the delay and outright denial of medical care, the punitive use of solitary confinement, the failure to provide mental health care, and discrimination against people requiring disability accommodations.

“This administration’s horrific mistreatment of immigrants is not limited to individuals at the border,” said Lisa Graybill, deputy legal director for the SPLC.  “The fact that immigrant detention is supposed to be civil, and not punitive, is a distinction without a difference when it comes to how detained immigrants are treated.  At least twenty-six people have died since Trump took office, and tens of thousands have suffered as a result of the federal government’s abject failure to provide basic medical care at the facilities where taxpayers are spending billions to detain immigrants. More will suffer, and more will die, without court intervention.”

Plaintiff Luis Manual Rodriguez Delgadillo is a 29-year-old man who lived in California almost all of his life before being detained at Adelanto in March 2019.  Most of his family members are U.S. citizens, as are both of his two young children. His mother, Patricia Delgadillo, said “My son has serious mental health needs.  He was stable before being detained, but now he is experiencing hallucinations and other symptoms because they have changed his medication, and he has missed two court dates as a result.  Like any parents, my husband and I suffer with him, and we just want him to be safe.”

All of the named plaintiffs are individuals currently detained by ICE in repurposed prisons and jails.  They have experienced abuse and mistreatment ranging from the denial of proper medical screening and care, to lengthy placement in segregation, to deprivation of medications necessary to manage mental heath disabilities, to discrimination on the basis of disability and the denial of necessities like hearing aids and mobility devices.

Over the course of Fiscal Year 2018, ICE detained approximately 396,448 people pending a hearing on their immigration claims.  Many could be legally released on parole or with a bond, but ICE chooses to detain them instead, at an average cost of $208.00 per individual, per day. Instead, these individuals are packed into immigration prisons in which they are routinely denied healthcare and disability accommodations, are subjected to arbitrary and punitive isolation, and are often unable to use the telephone to call family and attorneys, access a library, or receive recreation. Thousands have suffered in detention, many of whom have abandoned viable immigration claims and accepted deportation out of a desperate desire to be released or to obtain necessary medical care.

“The atrocious conditions in immigrant detention are an open secret,” said Tim Fox, Co-Executive Director at CREEC.  “Dozens of reports –some by the government itself – over decades substantiate the claims in this lawsuit.  The Detainee Death Reports the government publishes when people in immigration detention die in ICE custody provide textbook examples of medical abuse and neglect, yet DHS and ICE have done nothing to address these failures. And the risk is growing exponentially as this Administration needlessly expands detention by thousands of beds each year.”

Other plaintiffs include Jose Segovia Benitez, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who returned home from Iraq after injury from an explosive device and was subsequently diagnosed with depression, hearing loss, traumatic brain injury, and PTSD, and a heart condition. He has received insufficient cardiac care at Adelanto and been placed in solitary confinement, which experts liken to torture, for behavior that may be a manifestation of his mental health disability.

“Immigrants with disabilities are at heightened risk of discrimination in detention,” said Stuart Seaborn, Managing Director of Litigation for DRA.  “Detained individuals who are Deaf or have mobility disabilities are regularly denied access to assistive devices, without which they may not be able to communicate, meet their needs, or participate in programming.”

Plaintiff Al Otro Lado is a non-profit organization that provides pro bono legal services to immigrants. “Our mission is to help immigrants fight their removal cases,” says Al Otro Lado’s Litigation Director, Erika Pinheiro. “But too often, we end up having to help them fight for their lives due to the terrible medical care they are receiving in detention.  When our clients’ health is compromised, their cases suffer, due process violations are common, and they are at heightened risk of deportation.”

Plaintiff Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice is a non-profit organization that advocates for immigrants in California’s Inland Empire, a region in Southern California that is east of Los Angeles. “Seven people in detention have died at Adelanto in the last eight years, and we don’t want ICE to add to that number,” said Javier Hernández, Executive Director of the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice.  “We have had to redirect our resources away from advocacy towards adding staff to help people who are detained deal with health emergencies and bond.”

Plaintiffs do not seek monetary damages, but instead aim to reform the way our nation treats the human beings who have immigrated to the United States.

***

Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) is a nonprofit membership organization whose goal is to ensure that everyone can fully and independently participate in our nation’s civic life without discrimination based on race, gender, disability, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity. https://creeclaw.org/.

Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), founded in 1993, is the leading national nonprofit disability rights legal center.  Its mission is to advance equal rights and opportunity for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. DRA represents people with the full spectrum of disabilities in complex, system-changing, class action cases.  Thanks to DRA’s precedent-setting work, people with disabilities across the country have dramatically improved access to health care, employment, transportation, education, disaster preparedness planning, voting, housing, and juvenile justice.  https://www.dralegal.org.

Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society.  Through its Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative,  SPLC provides direct representation to immigrants in remote, rural detention centers in two of the states with the highest numbers of detained individuals, Louisiana and Georgia.  https://www.splcenter.org/.

Al Otro Lado (AOL) is a bi-national, direct legal services organization serving indigent deportees, migrants, and refugees in Tijuana, Mexico. https://alotrolado.org/.

Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ICIJ) is dedicated to convening organizations to collectively advocate and work to improve the lives of immigrant communities while working towards a just solution to the immigration system. https://ic4ij.org/.

Orrick has 27 offices worldwide, and focuses on serving the Technology, Energy & Infrastructure and Finance sectors globally.  Clients worldwide call on Orrick’s teams for forward-looking commercial advice on transactions, litigation and compliance matters.  https://www.orrick.com/en/About-Us.

You can read the complaint here.

Check out our case page here.

 

Fighting for the Rights of Deaf Immigrants in Detention

“I was so sad. So afraid I’d never see my son again. I had no idea that they [US Customs and Border Patrol] would separate us, especially in the case of my son who is deaf and who can’t communicate easily,” says an asylum-seeking mom from Guatemala who prefers to remain anonymous for safety reasons. She goes on to say that CREEC’s Liz Jordan “helped me communicate with my son, and closely followed what was happening to me. Without CREEC’s help I would not have been able to figure out what was happening with my son and I would not have been able to fight my case.”

mother and son using sign language to communicate with each other. Their faces are not pictured to protect their identity

Photo by: Susan Ferriss/Center for Public Integrity

Separated from his mother soon after crossing the border in April 2018, a 17-yr old deaf asylum seeker was transported alone hundreds of miles away to an Office of Refugee Resettlement shelter in Arizona – without interpretation services or accommodations of any kind. His only means of communication? Drawing pictures.

Meanwhile, the boy’s mother was sent to the ICE detention center in Aurora, Colorado where she asked for a video call with her son. Her requests were ignored. She says, “I felt so alone when I first got to Aurora. I didn’t know what I had to do. I met with a pro bono attorney and explained everything that had happened with me and my son and that he was deaf. They referred my case to CREEC. I remember my first visit from CREEC. I felt so much more supported. I felt myself come back to life a bit.”

“It was a long fight involving multiple requests for a video call, consistent with ICE’s legal obligations to provide effective communications in their detention centers. Working with the son’s lawyer in Arizona and the ACLU’s family separation litigation team we were finally able to reunite our client with her son so they can be together and safely continue their quest for asylum,” says Liz Jordan, Director of the Immigration Detention Accountability Project at CREEC.

You can read and hear more about how CREEC and others are fighting for the rights of immigrants with disabilities in detention by following this link to National Public Radio’s recent story, Homeland Security’s Civil Rights Unit Lacks Power To Protect Migrant Kids.

How Can You Help? As CREEC is a 501(c)(3), donor support is vital to our ability to provide assistance to people like the mother and son in this article. Consider a charitable gift this year to help CREEC continue to challenge discrimination. Your support matters!

You can make a gift online or contact CREEC’s Development Director, Julie Yates.

 

 

 

Accessibility Project Update: Rights of Disabled Inmates

CREEC is pleased to announce a new resource called Inmates with Disabilities: Know Your Rights.  This resource provides an overview of the rights of disabled inmates and gives examples of potential violations. Please share it with anyone who may benefit from it. We greatly appreciate the work of our summer intern, Jordan Staley, on this project and wish him all the best as he begins his third year at Denver Law. A more detailed discussion of the rights of disabled inmates follows below.

Applicable Laws

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)[1] and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504)[2] protect people, including inmates of jails and prisons, from disability discrimination. This means jails and prisons[3] must not discriminate against inmates because of their disability and must give disabled inmates equal access to the programs, services, and benefits of the facility. So, for example, a jail cannot provide classes only in a building that is physically inaccessible to wheelchair users. Similarly, prisons cannot segregate blind inmates by automatically housing all of them in the medical unit.  Individuals with a relationship or association with a disabled person are also protected by these federal laws. So, jails and prisons also cannot discriminate against family members and friends of disabled inmates or disabled family members and friends of nondisabled inmates.

Changes Needed Due to Disability

Sometimes disabled inmates need the facility to make a change to allow them to fully participate in its programs, services, or benefits. The ADA and Section 504 require prisons and jails to make such changes (referred to as accommodations or modifications) as long as they are reasonable. For example, an inmate with a mobility disability may need additional time to travel from their cell to the cafeteria. Or, an inmate with a life-threatening peanut allergy may need their food prepared in a peanut free area of the kitchen. In most cases, it is an inmate’s responsibility to request these reasonable changes and, unless it’s obvious, explain why the change is necessary due to their disability.

Effective Communication

The ADA and Section 504 require correctional facilities to communicate as effectively with inmates with disabilities as with others. Prisons must provide auxiliary aids and/or services when necessary for effective communication. Auxiliary aids/services include sign language interpreters, videophones, Braille documents, audio documents, captioned videos and TV, and explanations of documents. Prisons must tailor an auxiliary aid/service to an inmate’s individual needs and give primary consideration to an inmate’s requested mode of communication. Providing an inmate handbook in only written English will not result in effective communication for a blind inmate or a deaf inmate whose primary language is ASL. Neither will providing a Braille document to someone who is blind but does not read Braille. It is similarly ineffective for a jail to provide a TTY to a deaf inmate whose primary language is ASL. A videophone will be required for effective communication. (Link to our prior videophone article)

Exceptions

Keep in mind that prisons are not required to provide accommodations/modifications or auxiliary aids/services that require a fundamental alteration or impose an undue burden on the facility. Prisons may also exclude a disabled inmate from a program or service if his participation would pose significant health and safety risks or a direct threat to others.

If you or someone you know is being discriminated against in jail or prison, contact CREEC at info@creeclaw.org or 303.757.7901 for possible help.

[1] 42 U.S.C. § 12131.

[2] 29 U.S.C. § 794(a).

[3] Throughout the remainder of this article, the terms prison, jail, and correctional facility will be used interchangeably.

How Can I Help?

Helping has been a central them in Alan Chen’s life and career. From precedent setting First Amendment work that helped expose misconduct on factory farms to teaching the next generation of civil rights lawyers at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Alan’s work has helped right wrongs and has inspired others to follow suit for decades.

man in a coat and tie facing the cameraAnd, from the beginning, Alan has been here to help CREEC, too. Alan says, “I’d known and respected Tim and Amy for years when they did their civil rights work through their law firm, Fox & Robertson. I was impressed with their lawyering and their strategic thinking. When Amy & Tim decided to form CREEC as a 501(c)(3) in order to deepen and broaden their impact, I was immediately interested.” From day one, Alan volunteered as a member of CREEC’s legal panel, a role he has also played for the ACLU of Colorado. “Volunteering on the panel gave me an opportunity to really see the detail of CREEC’s legal work in action. I was especially struck by CREEC’s probing and thorough pre-case research. CREEC’s lawyers are truly masterful when it comes to legal research, engendering a high level of trust in their work from the very beginning. Tim, Amy, Bill, Liz, and Martie are all such committed, high-level lawyers.” A few years later when he was asked to join CREEC’s Board of Directors, Alan says that he didn’t hesitate. “I fully resonate with CREEC’s mission and am proud to play even a small role in the organization’s success.”

When asked what he thinks the future holds for CREEC, Alan remarked on the importance of CREEC’s high impact litigation in disability rights at the national level. “I’ve been glad to see CREEC increasing its national reach in the area of civil rights litigation as well as its full embrace of the educational part of its mission. As CREEC has grown its legal staff, bringing on additional talent and strength, I see only continued excellence on the horizon, resulting in much needed change in the lives of people who need it the most.”  And, when asked how he plans to continue to help CREEC, Alan quipped, “I want CREEC to become a household name in the world of civil rights advocacy. That’s going to take a lot of resources and more hard work. I plan to continue to volunteer my legal help when useful, contribute as much as I can financially whenever I can, and spread the word far and wide about CREEC and its amazing work. I hope others will join me in doing the same.”

CREEC is grateful to Alan and others like him who have asked the question, “How can I help?” And, who have answered it so fully through the dedication of their professional, financial and personal support, believing that true change comes from working together.

You can read more about Professor Chen and his work on the Sturm College of Law website.

You, too, can help support CREEC’s work with an online gift or by attending our Annual Event!

 

 

Announcing CREEC’s 2019 Challenging Discrimination Award Winner

The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center is honored to announce César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández as the winner of this year’s Challenging Discrimination Award for his dedicated and distinguished service to the immigration law and policy community and to the broader civil rights community in Denver and nationally.

A tenured associate professor of law at the University of Denver, César is a leading scholar in crimmigration law, defined as the intersection of criminal law and immigration law. Widely published in academic journals and popular media outlets, César’s second book, Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession With Locking Up Immigrants, will be released in December by the social justice publisher The New Press. His seminal book Crimmigration Law (American Bar Association Publishing 2015) has become required reading for anyone pursuing work in the field.

In addition to providing tools for immigration and civil rights attorneys to better represent their clients in the fight for systemic change, César generously and effectively shares his expertise with the general public, thereby magnifying his opportunities to create change in our world. César is a frequent contributor to national and international media outlets such as the BBC, NPR, The New York Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, and La Opinión through op-eds and interviews. He also writes a popular blog and has a large Twitter following.

César’s academic and professional accolades are many and include being awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Slovenia, being appointed as a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley School of Law’s Henderson Center for Social Justice, and receiving the Derrick Bell Award from the American Association of Law Schools Section on Minority Groups. César is a member of the American Bar Association Commission on Immigration. Soon César will be able to add the 2019 CREEC Challenging Discrimination Award to his list!

Intellectual, activist, teacher, and public commentator, César is a passionate and effective fighter for the rights of individuals and groups and his work creates change well beyond his immediate sphere of influence. We hope that you’ll be able to join us at the History Colorado Center on September 19, 2019 at our Annual Event to honor César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández and to hear more about what he’s done, the change he fuels, and what he plans to do next.

Register* for CREEC’s Annual Event!                                                                                                  Sponsor CREEC’s Event!

*cost should never be a barrier to attendance at CREEC events. Contact Julie (jyates@creeclaw.org|303.757.7901) if the ticket prices are cost prohibitive.

Learn more about César and his work here and check out his blog crimmigration.com.

Welcome Yashna!

Image of Indian-American woman smiling. Greenery in background..Yashna Eswaran is a paralegal in our Colorado office. Yashna graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, with a B.A. in International Relations and Global Studies with Special Honors as well as Health and Society. Her degrees focused on the socio-demographic, cultural, political, and ethical contexts that underlie societal inequities. Yashna has previously worked at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment working on youth and health equity initiatives. Additionally, while in Texas, Yashna has worked at the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health, focusing on empowering young people who have been impacted by systems such as foster care, juvenile justice, and mental health. Most recently, Yashna was a Legal Assistant for an Attorney Ad-Litem, working extensively with Child Protective Services cases. Yashna’s academic and professional careers have motivated her to combat the systems that perpetuate injustices and inequities. In her free time, Yashna can be found traveling, eating, and watching Law and Order SVU.

Welcome Julie!

CREEC is pleased to announce the appointment of our first Development Director, Julie Yates. Julie will be building a comprehensive fundraising program for CREEC and will be working to deepen relationships and enhance communication between CREEC and you, our supporters!

An experienced fundraising professional and educator with a passion for making the world a better place, Julie has more than two decades of demonstrated success in the areas of philantphoto of a smiling woman in a black shirthropy, relationship building, strategic thinking, and problem solving. Julie comes to CREEC from The White Mountain School where she served as Development Director, growing their fundraising program, building a strategic communications plan, and leading the School’s largest-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign. A long-time educator, Julie has deep personal interest in human rights and social justice and is looking forward to using her professional skills in service of CREEC’s mission and vision.

Julie graduated magna cum laude from Smith College with a BA in Biology and later earned her MS in Science Education from The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Julie has taught biology and chemistry at Blair Academy, NJ, St. Paul’s School, NH, and The White Mountain School, NH where she was also appointed to multiple administrative positions during her 18 years of service. Julie says about her new position at CREEC, “I am so excited to share with others information about the incredible work CREEC does to challenge discrimination and to help raise necessary funds so my colleagues at CREEC can continue their vital work. Our world needs more organizations like CREEC with the will, heart, and intellectual power to lead much needed social change. I’m truly honored to play a role in support of CREEC’s life-changing work.”

Outside of work, Julie enjoys time with her husband and their two adult children. She loves the outdoors, spending as much time as possible hiking, biking, camping or wandering aimlessly in the woods, fields and streams. Julie also enjoys curling up with a good book, a cup of tea, and her two cats.

We are thrilled that Julie is bringing her longtime fundraising and non-profit leadership experience to advance CREEC’s mission and we assume she will soon be adding a dog to her family.

Interested in supporting the amazing work CREEC does? You can donate online or contact Julie.  jyates@creeclaw.org | 303.757.7901

Deaf Inmate Access to Phone Calls

Connecting with family and friends outside prison can be difficult and expensive for all inmates.  However, once they’ve navigated the prison’s red tape and are able to make a call, hearing inmates can directly communicate with their contacts outside the prison. That is not the case for deaf inmates.  Many jails and prisons across the country offer only outdated and ineffective technology to people who are deaf.  Along with partners including the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), CREEC is working to make sure deaf inmates have effective communication in prisons across the country.  This includes access to effective phone calls, including videophones and CapTel (captioned phones).

For deaf people whose primary language is American Sign Language (ASL) or another sign language, videophones are necessary for effective phone communication.  Videophones (VPs) allow deaf inmates to communicate in sign language with those outside prison, including friends, family, and attorneys.  When a deaf inmate uses VP to call a deaf person outside prison, there is direct communication in sign language.  When a deaf inmate uses VP to call a hearing person outside prison, the deaf inmate can communicate in sign language through a relay operator who is a sign language interpreter.

Although deaf inmates need VP for effective communication, most prisons only provide teletypewriters (TTY), an outdated technology that requires the parties to type back and forth in English (generally the second language for most deaf people). As one expert explained, “consider the prisoner outrage that would result from a . . . policy . . . require[ing] all prisoners to communicate. . . only by using fax machines.  Communication via fax machines is quite parallel to TTY communication – the communication is asynchronous, you send your communication, wait for a response, hope it is not garbled and hope you have not been misunderstood.”

In addition, because most people outside prison do not have TTYs, two relay operators are usually needed to facilitate the TTY communication.  Typing in written English and utilizing multiple relay interpreters often results in confusion and miscommunication.  Transcripts of TTY calls frequently contain portions which are unreadable.

CREEC currently represents several inmates in a lawsuit against the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) on this issue. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related laws require CDOC to provide effective communication to deaf inmates.  Each plaintiff asked CDOC for access to a VP but CDOC refused.  CDOC claims TTY is as effective as VP.  These plaintiffs and their expert witnesses have provided evidence that VP is needed by each plaintiff for effective communication.  Both CDOC and our clients recently filed motions.  Each side asked the court to decide without holding a trial whether CDOC must provide access to VPs. Martie Lafferty, CREEC’s Director of Accessibility Projects comments, “Our clients deserve equal access to phone calls.  We hope this court ruling will help make that happen.”

Please contact CREEC if you or someone you know needs help getting a prison to provide access to a VP.  You can also contact us about other communication problems in jail or prison.  We will review the information to see if we can help.  We cannot help with every issue.  Here is our contact information: 303-797-7901 or intakes@creeclaw.org.

 

RESOURCES

https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/telecommunications-relay-service-trs

https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/video-relay-services

https://www.captel.com/captel/

https://www.wired.com/story/why-many-deaf-prisoners-cant-phone-home/

 

SIMPLIFIED SUMMARY

Prisons should have videophones (VPs) for deaf inmates.  Contact CREEC if you are in prison and need a VP.  Contact CREEC if you know a deaf inmate who needs a VP.  We cannot help everyone who contacts us.  We will review your issue to see if we can help.   Here is our contact information: 303-797-7901 or intakes@creeclaw.org.

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