Investigation of Communication Problems in Tennessee Prisons

Disability Law United and Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) are currently investigating communication barriers for deaf inmates in Tennessee prisons. This includes prisons operated by the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) and by CoreCivic.

If you are a deaf inmate in a Tennessee prison and are having communication problems OR know a deaf inmate in a Tennessee prison who is having communication problems, please contact DRT by phone at 1-800-342-1660 or by email at

Examples of communication problems include:

  • No sign language interpreter for communications like:
    • medical appointments
    • classes
    • classification
    • STRONG-R
  • Using other inmates as “interpreters”
  • Grievance information only in written English
  • No videophones
  • Greater access to telephones than videophones
  • No visual fire and emergency alarms
  • No closed captions on TVs

These are only examples. This is not a complete list of communication problems that may be occurring.

While the current investigation is focused on Tennessee, if you are experiencing these issues in prisons outside of TN or know others who are, please contact Disability Law United by phone at 303.757.7901 or

Please post the attached notice in a public space and please share this information with deaf inmates and their friends or family members.

PDF Version of Public Notice


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