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Texas Court Orders TDCJ to Provide Hearing Impaired Telecommunications

On April 5, 2011, a Texas state court issued a temporary injunction ordering the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) to provide telecommunications to hearing impaired prisoners using the Texas Relay Service (TRS).

Leslie Arrington, Janet Lock, Kathy Williams and Laura Beeman are Texas state prisoners who, with the assistance of the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP), filed a lawsuit in state court challenging the unavailability of telecommunications for hearing impaired prisoners. Aided by TCRP attorneys Abigail Frank and Scott Medlock, they filed a motion for a temporary injunction which the court granted.

The temporary injunction requires the TDCJ to immediately make TRS services available to hearing impaired prisoners so they can communicate with people on their approved lists under conditions similar to those applied to prisoners without hearing impairments.
The only exception is that hearing impaired prisoners must submit a written request to the warden or designee two hours in advance of the requested TRS phone call.

The TDCJ was also ordered to “investigate ways to implement the use of videophone technology to accommodate inmates with disabilities within TDCJ facilities.” See: Arrington v. Securus Technologies, Inc., 419th J.D. Court, Travis Co. (TX), Case No. D-1-GN-10-000515.

The TDCJ appealed, but the Court of Appeals refused to stay enforcement of the temporary injunction pending resolution of the appeal. The trial court subsequently entered a permanent injunction; this mooted the TDCJ’s interlocutory appeal, which was dismissed on April 25, 2012. See: Livingston v. Arrington, Texas Court of Appeals, Third District at Austin, No. 03-11-00266-CV.

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Related legal cases

Livingston v. Arrington

Arrington v. Securus Technologies, Inc.