In this June 18, 2018, photo, Jerry Coen speaks to a reporter in Atlanta. Coen, a deaf former inmate, spent 10 years in a Georgia prison after several alcohol-related arrests and said he was denied access to programs that could help him overcome his alcoholism and anger issues. (AP Photo/Brinley Hineman)
Editor’s Note: Sara Novic is a Deaf writer and assistant professor of creative writing at Stockton University. Her first novel, “Girl at War,” was released by Random House in 2015. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. The Deaf community uses a capital “D” to differentiate between people who identify with Deaf culture and identity, and the physical lack of hearing. To learn more about the disability community, watch “United Shades of America” on CNN Go.
Jerry Coen, a former inmate of the Georgia state prison system, was clean-cut in a bright Nike polo when we connected on Skype. Though we had never met before and were hundreds of miles apart, we were tethered to one another by a shared language [...]