- Published on 29 May 2013
“The abuse and violations occurring in Florida are, by far, the worst that we have seen,” says Lewis, the founder of HEARD (Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf), a non-profit civil rights organization based in Washington, DC that advocates for deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind prisoners across the nation.
“Florida's most vulnerable prisoners — those who are deaf, deaf-blind, blind, elderly and mentally and physically disabled — are the victims of extreme violence and sexual abuse. We have reported these abuses for nearly three years to no avail.”
She says the Department of Corrections has systematically created a culture of fear and hopelessness for disabled prisoners.
“Its failure to provide accommodations for and protections to this population is beyond reproach. Many of Florida's deaf prisoners, fearful of brutal retaliation and assured of prison officials' apathy or complicity, have all but given up hope of living safe from fear of sexual and physical assault.”