The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Deaf Man Killed in Custody

Nov 21, 2022

Javarick Gantt was strangled to death by his cellmate in the Baltimore City Jail on October 9. He was not only very short and thin but also deaf, needing sign language interpreters to communicate.

The jail held Gantt for three months without bail, failed to deal with his disability, and then put him in a cell with a man accused of fatally stabbing a stranger.

Gantt’s legal troubles began three years ago when he was picked up for disorderly conduct. When police told him to show up in court, it is not clear he heard and understood the directive. So he went about his life in the local deaf community, stocking shelves at convenience stores.

Police arrested him last July on an outstanding warrant, because he had not shown up in court. Nine years ago the state of Maryland reached a settlement with deaf advocates, agreeing to accommodate deaf people in jail. But with Gantt, the jail did not respect that agreement.

So he was jailed without having been found guilty of a crime and thrown into a cell with a violent offender. This amounted to a death sentence. Obviously, the prison system doesn’t exist to protect working people, but to oppress them.