- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 5, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The Oregon Corrections Department has agreed to pay $150,000 to a deaf inmate whose lawyer says he was denied a qualified interpreter and was given menial jobs.

Lawyer Dennis Steinman also said Wednesday that the prison system has transferred another deaf inmate to the same prison where his client, Merle Baldridge, is serving time. The lawyer says that will allow the two the same social interaction that other inmates get.

The Oregonian reports (https://is.gd/hbVFT8 ) that under terms of the settlement, Oregon state prisons will provide deaf inmates with sign-language interpreters for orientation, medical exams, counseling and other daily interactions. Steinman estimates Oregon has 20 to 25 deaf inmates.

Baldridge sued in April 2012, seeking $600,000. He said he’d repeatedly been denied a qualified interpreter to communicate with doctors or attend religious services, Alcoholics Anonymous or a GED program at the Columbia River Correctional Institution in Portland.

The newspaper says a Corrections spokesperson declined comment, citing unfamiliarity with the case.

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Information from: The Oregonian, https://www.oregonlive.com

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