February 9, 2018

ACLU: Indiana Prison Violated Blind Inmate's Rights

stock photo

stock photo

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Indiana Department of Correction, alleging that prison officials are discriminating against a blind former inmate by refusing to let him participate in a literacy program to get his sentence reduced.

The ACLU of Indiana filed the lawsuit last week in federal court, the South Bend Tribune reported. It alleges that Jorge Romero-Ruvalcava, 40, could've had his sentence reduced if the prison had allowed him to participate in the program to earn a GED certificate.

The lawsuit says Romero-Ruvalcava was convicted of a felony for sexual misconduct with a minor. He served his sentence at the New Castle Correctional Facility from 2015 to 2017.

According to the lawsuit, the Department of Correction violated the federal Rehabilitation Act because it didn't provide tools for the blind that would have enabled Romero-Ruvalcava to complete the program, which deprived him of the chance to reduce his sentence by up to six months.

The lawsuit says that in 2016, Romero-Ruvalcava passed preliminary tests that are required to enroll in the program, but he was later told he couldn't participate because there were no tools provided to educate the blind "and his disability would not be accommodated."

Melissa Gustafson, a spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office, said the office is reviewing the lawsuit and consulting with the department.

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