The ACLU of Virginia, the disAbility Law Center of Virginia, and the law firm of Brown, Goldstein, and Levy filed a complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia against the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC), individual VADOC officials, and the Virginia Information Technologies Agency on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia and seven incarcerated blind or low-vision men being denied equal access to services and programs available to sighted incarcerated people. This case settled on May 17, 2024. 

Michael McCann, Kevin Muhammad Shabazz, Patrick Shaw and William Stravitz were or are currently incarcerated at Deerfield Correctional Center; Nacarlo Antonio Courtney and William Hajacos were or are currently incarcerated at Greensville Correctional Center.  

The complaint alleged that VADOC has relied on other incarcerated people to act as so-called “caregivers” for blind or visually impaired prisoners. To fill out such critical materials as requests for medical visits or grievance forms, blind or visually impaired prisoners must ask their “caregivers” to do it for them, as well as to read out loud to them everything from prison policies to private correspondence. 

By failing to provide blind and visually impaired people who are incarcerated in its custody with equal access to services and programs that it makes available to sighted people, the complaint alleged that VADOC violated the ADA, Section 504, the Virginians with Disabilities Act, and the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

On May 8, 2024, Judge Hudson dismissed the claims of Mr. Stravitz and Mr. Shaw in their entirety, and one claim related to Mr. Hajacos, but allowed the remaining claims of Mr. McCann, Mr. Courtney, Mr. Shabazz and Mr. Hajacos to move forward at trial.


Samantha Westrum, Vishal Agraharkar, Matt Callahan

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Brown, Goldstein and Levy

Date filed

February 15, 2023


United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia


U.S. District Senior Judge Henry Hudson


Settlement Agreement

Case number