Joe’s blog – #86 – Doing the right thing, following clearly articulated law

Well, I can say that I am finally at my wits end when it comes to any further dealings with the Grievance Coordinator, whose official title is “Human Rights Advocate”, here at Deerfield. I have never, in my almost 40 years in this system, encountered a DOC official who has been so intentionally and, willfully, obtuse. I can only turn to a fictitious character from a short story by Flannery O’Connor to best describe this person:

Rayber, the positivist schoolteacher in “The Violent Bear It Away”. That Sophoclean nemesis, that right-thinking man who is null and void, a reasonable zombie. The latter, like the Human Rights Advocate in question is, by all standards, the kind of person our society accepts as normal: not only a sane person but a kind one. A person with a forward looking and optimistic perspective, illuminated and blessed with a rational worldview, and acquainted with all the best methods for helping people, etc. A positivist Mephistopheles, a pure void, a mouthpiece for demons. A Human Rights Advocate whose hubris consists in her belief/conviction in her infinite rightness, i.e., who is fully convinced that everyone must do things her way, since only her way is the right way. She’s not an evil person. She just wants to make all in her image, i.e., into a reasonable zombie.

What in the hell are you trying to say, you ask? Forgive me. I’m venting. Let me put all of this in context.
From past blogs many of you are aware of my efforts on behalf of Doug the Blind, and my frustrating encounters with the Grievance Coordinator on his behalf. In that case the Human Rights Advocate employs her god given gift of reason to find ways to frustrate, thwart, delay, hinder, and deny a blind man access to the DOC’s administrative grievance process. Her actions are not a mere abberation. I am now convinced that her tactics are intentional.

There is another man here at Deerfield, Righteous Shabazz, who I have been assisting. Righteous has been diagnosed with “normal pressure glaucoma”. One of his eyes is seriously damaged. The disease is chronic and degenerative. He has to take proactive steps to do all that he can to reduce the pressure on his optic nerve. He has been determined to be partially disabled, he will never be permitted to drive, he is qualified for protection purposes under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and has filed a request for accommodations thereto.

The authorities here at the prison have, for some months now, refused to respond yea or nay to his request. I helped him draft a grievance alleging the complaint that there has been, continues to, inordinate delay in responding to his request for accommodation under the ADA. As she has done in the past in the case of Doug the blind, she now does to Righteous. She has and continues to thwart his effort to file his grievance. She simply refuses, by employing disingenuous reasons, to intake his legitimate grievance, i.e., deny him access to the grievance process. Whether she realizes it or not, she is abusing her authority and, in reality, bullying the handicapped.

She has simply determined that the claim of “inordinate delay”, i.e., delay that can measurably result in irreparable injury to Mr. Shabazz, does not amount to a valid complaint, and thus cannot be grieved.

She is wrong. Period. She has now overstepped her bounds, and has left Mr. Shabazz with no other remedy other than to take direct legal action against her. At this point it does not matter whether the prison administration grants his request for accommodation or not: he has a separate cause of action against her. She is depriving, by hook or crook, handicapped individuals their right to redress of grievances in direct violation of DOC policy, the ADA, the Constitution of Virginia, and the U.S. Constitution. Both Doug and Righteous can prove this by clear and convincing evidence, and via a perponderance of the evidence. They have painstakingly built a record of evidence that shows a clear pattern and, practice, of abuse by this coordinator. Doug and Righteous will now be co-plaintiffs. I will be sending a letter to legal counsel in the case. The grievance coordinator will now, in her own right, have to defend her actions in open court as a named defendant.

Such obstinance baffles me. Why not allow the grievance to be heard on its merits? Intake, i.e., allow it to be filed, then decide the issue on the merits. That was the purpose for putting the grievance process in place to begin with. Apparently my former Warden is wrong, it is in fact “Rocket Science” after all. Doing the right thing, following clearly articulated law, is just too complicated for some folks. Especially educated twits and reasonable zombies.

Peace, Joe G.
DFCC, 12-7-16

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