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Michigan deaf prisoners file civil rights lawsuit
Michigan deaf prisoners file civil rights lawsuit

[JURIST] The Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service [advocacy website] filed a federal lawsuit [press release] Tuesday on behalf of deaf and hard-of-hearing prisoners alleging that the state and prison officials had failed to adequately accommodate the prisoners’ heightened communication needs. The complaint [text, PDF], filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan [official website], identifies problems such as a lack of interpreters at the facility, limited access to hearing aids and difficulty in participating in educational opportunities. The prisoners also feel that outdated technology hinders their ability to communicate with family members while incarcerated. The agency asserts that the unfair treatment and discrimination against deaf and hard of hearing prisoners is a violation of federal law and the US Constitution.

Protecting prisoners’ rights [JURIST news archive] and prison reform [JURIST podcast] are widely debated issues in the US and abroad. Earlier this month a federal appeals court upheld [JURIST report] automatic solitary confinement for Virginia death-row inmates. In January New York City officials agreed [JURIST report] on a plan that will eliminate the use of solitary confinement for young offenders. In February Arizona reached a settlement [JURIST report] in a prisoner health care class action lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website].