On August 16, 2016, probationers and parolees who are deaf or have hearing impairments and who are under the control and supervision of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections ("LDPSC"), brought this class action in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. The ...
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On August 16, 2016, probationers and parolees who are deaf or have hearing impairments and who are under the control and supervision of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections ("LDPSC"), brought this class action in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. The plaintiffs sued the LDPSC and its Secretary under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, alleging that the defendants failed to provide the auxiliary aids and services they needed. They alleged that the defendants, by denying them access to auxiliary aids, denied the plaintiffs an equal opportunity to successfully complete their probation and parole and to effectively participate in post-release rehabilitative programs which could (and for at least one plaintiff did) result in a finding that they had violated their probation or parole.
Represented by attorneys from the Advocacy Center, the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, and Proskauer Rose, the plaintiffs asked the court for injunctive and declaratory relief, as well as attorneys fees, court costs, expert costs, and litigation expenses. They also sought class certification.
The background of the case was that Louisiana had entered a 2008 Resolution Agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, which established procedures to provide auxiliary aids and services to deaf or hard-of-hearing prisoners under the control and supervision of the LDPSC. However, the resolution did not address probationers and parolees, like the plaintiffs in this matter. This is problematic because while on probation and or parole, individuals must comply with certain terms and conditions imposed on them, or be subject to punishment, including an extension of their probation or parole, or incarceration. The plaintiffs alleged here that they were unable to comply with all the terms and conditions of their probation and or parole, or to participate meaningfully in the defendants' programs because the defendants have not ensured effective communication with the plaintiffs by providing the requisite auxiliary aids and services.
As of December 2, 2016, the defendants had filed an answer to the plaintiffs' complaint, and the court set due dates by which the parties should submit expert reports. The Clearinghouse will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.Saeeda Joseph-Charles - 12/02/2016