Deaf People in the Criminal Justice System

Selected Topics on Advocacy, Incarceration, and Social Justice

Edited by Debra Guthmann, Gabriel I. Lomas, Damara Goff Paris, and Gabriel A. “Tony” Martin

Categories: Law, Psychology / Mental Health, Translation and Interpreting Studies
Imprint: Gallaudet University Press
Paperback : 9781944838836, 354 pages, June 2021
Ebook : 9781944838829, 304 pages, June 2021
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Chapter Summaries in ASL



The legal system is complex, and without appropriate access, many injustices can occur. Deaf people in the criminal justice system are routinely denied sign language interpreters, videophone access, and other accommodations at each stage of the legal process. The marginalization of deaf people in the criminal justice system is further exacerbated by the lack of advocates who are qualified to work with this population. Deaf People in the Criminal Justice System: Selected Topics on Advocacy, Incarceration, and Social Justice is the first book to illuminate the challenges faced by deaf people when they are arrested, incarcerated, or navigating the court system. This volume brings interdisciplinary contributors together to shed light on both the problems and solutions for deaf people in these circumstances.
       The contributors address issues such as accessibility needs; gaps regarding data collection and the need for more research; additional training for attorneys, court personnel, and prison staff; the need for more qualified sign language interpreters, including Certified Deaf Interpreters who provide services in court, prison, and juvenile facilities; substance use disorders; the school to prison nexus; and the need for advocacy. Students in training programs, researchers, attorneys, mental health professionals, sign language interpreters, family members, and advocates will be empowered by this much-needed resource to improve the experiences and outcomes for deaf people in the criminal justice system.

       This book has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this book do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Debra Guthmann is a nationally recognized lecturer, administrator, researcher, educator, and advocate with over forty years of extensive experience in service to the Deaf community.

Gabriel I. Lomas is a professor of counseling in the Department of Education and Educational Psychology at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, CT.

Damara Goff Paris is an associate professor of counselor education and co-coordinator of the clinical counseling program at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas.

Gabriel A. “Tony” Martin was Chair of the Department of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education at Lamar University for over twenty years.



"This book appeals to various professionals in the Deaf community, and it could significantly enhance the work of students, educators, researchers, advocates, mental health practitioners, interpreters, and the like. Readers less familiar and integrated with the Deaf community stand to gain an incredible amount of information ranging from Deaf 101 myth-busting to deep examinations of Deaf persons’ stories of inaccessibility and injustice. For professionals working in any area of the criminal justice system, this is a must-read."

— Meghan L. Fox, JADARA

"By drawing in so many interdisciplinary views, this book serves as a kaleidoscope of often underrepresented/unheard perspectives based on the experiences and challenges experienced by signing deaf populations. As a result, it is currently the most comprehensive book out there when it comes to considering multiple experiences and challenges in achieving criminal justice reform from the perspectives of signing and deaf populations."

— Tawny Holmes Hlibok, Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education