In March, 2020, CREEC and Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) filed suit against the Tennessee Department of Correction in a case similar to but broader than Rogers: it demanded access to videophones and challenged other forms of discrimination against Deaf and hard of hearing people in TDOC’s custody. Despite repeated advocacy by DRT, TDOC has, for years, systematically and repeatedly denied Deaf and hard of hearing prisoners qualified sign language interpreters during critical communications involving medical care, classification, religious services, and optional and mandatory educational classes. As a result of this unlawful denial, Deaf and hard of hearing people in TDOC custody regularly do not have access to adequate health care or to critical programs and services designed to prepare them for successful reentry.
In October 2020, CREEC and DRT moved for a preliminary injunction requiring TDOC to provide videophones. That motion is still pending.
In November 2020, the Court denied TDOC’s motion to dismiss and granted Plaintiffs’ motion to amend, holding that DRT had standing to sue TDOC on behalf of DHOH prisoners, and that the Complaint could be amended to add two additional prisoners as plaintiffs. Trivette v. Tennessee Dep’t of Correction, No. 3:20-CV-00276, 2020 WL 6685557 (M.D. Tenn. Nov. 12, 2020).