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Christopher Jones challenges discrimination against deaf inmates in Clark County Detention Center

12 Jan 2024, Jail News, by

Christopher Jones sues Clark County Jail, alleging discrimination against deaf inmates and demanding proper communication and accommodations.

Christopher Jones challenges discrimination against deaf inmates in Clark County Detention Center - Inmate Lookup

Christopher Jones, an inmate at the Clark County Detention Center, has taken legal action against the Las Vegas police, claiming discriminatory treatment towards him and other deaf inmates.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, involves allegations of deliberate indifference to Jones’s medical needs and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Jones, represented by the ACLU of Nevada and the National Association of the Deaf, asserts that the jail failed to provide effective means of communication, further increasing the challenges faced by deaf inmates.

To address these issues, ACLU of Nevada Legal Director Christopher Peterson emphasized the necessity of bringing the Clark County Detention Center into the modern era. He stressed the importance of providing the required services for one of the most vulnerable segments of the incarcerated population.

The lawsuit alleges that the Metropolitan Police Department, responsible for operating the county jail, neglected its obligation to offer tools catering to the needs of deaf inmates like videophones, sign language interpreters, or program modification.

In January 2022, the ACLU of Nevada submitted a comparable complaint to the Department of Justice, urging an investigation into how the jail treats deaf inmates.

Peterson stated that Christopher Jones experienced discriminatory treatment, and his three-year incarceration at the jail was more challenging due to his deafness.

The lawsuit states that being deaf, Jones restricted communication to written notes, leading to him missing vital verbal announcements, including information about COVID-19, during the peak of the pandemic. The absence of an interpreter also prevented his participation in classes and religious services.


Communication Challenges

The lawsuit seeks damages for Jones and urges a judge to mandate the Metropolitan Police Department’s compliance with its obligations, insisting on the implementation of appropriate remedial measures at the Clark County Detention Center.

While the jail employs teletypewriters for hard-of-hearing inmates to make phone calls, Peterson argued that this technology is outdated and inadequate for those with limited time for communication. The inmates must type out messages for an operator to relay the information to the caller on the other end of the line when using teletypewriters.

After eight months of incarceration, Jones obtained access to a teletypewriter for making phone calls. Peterson calls for the jail to implement videophones, providing a means for inmates to communicate in sign language, according to the lawsuit. Peterson emphasized that the deaf community’s preferred videophone technology is already in use in jails and prisons all over the nation.

Citing legal precedents, Peterson highlighted that courts in various states have ordered facilities to provide proper accommodations for deaf and hard-of-hearing inmates.

In addition, Peterson asserted that, as a major metropolitan area, they have an obligation to adhere to modern standards of decency for incarcerated individuals in their facilities. He emphasized that they possess the financial resources and intelligence to fulfill these obligations, yet they fall short.

The lawsuit further claims that when Christopher Jones tried to file a complaint, he faced disciplinary action and was placed in solitary confinement for not following the correct grievance process. However, the staff members at the jail failed to effectively communicate to Jones what the proper grievance process entailed.

Instances of Jones being denied writing utensils during disciplinary housing further hindered his ability to communicate with other inmates or staff. The lawsuit also details incidents where Jones, due to language barriers, was unable to understand orders promptly, leading to disciplinary actions such as transfer to solitary confinement.

Notably, during a mental health evaluation, the jail allegedly failed to provide Christopher Jones with an interpreter after he reported experiencing hallucinations to staff members.

Summarizing the effects of communication barriers, the lawsuit emphasized that deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals at the Clark County Detention Center often miss essential information, resulting in the disruption of meals, appointments, medication schedules, work, and laundry.