BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The mother of a deaf inmate in the New York State prison system says her son has been abused, including death threats.

Twenty year old Joey Crapsi was born deaf and is also developmentally disabled.

While at the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, an inmate demanded that his family pay him thousands of dollars to make sure Joey wouldn’t be killed.

“Please don’t go to the police, or I will be in very serious problems,” said the inmate in one of two letters read by Crapsi’s mother, Cindy McKillen. He wrote that if the police were notified Joey would be dead.

Another letter threatened harm to Joey’s family as well.

Joey Crapsi was convicted of inappropriately touching his five year old cousin. He was sentenced from one to three years in prison after he violated his parole.

Joey’s advocate, Angela Boyle, says he has tested to the level of a six to a nine year old. She has been working to improve his treatment behind bars.

“It needs to go to the media because it’s a big problem,” she says.

When he started serving his sentence at the Fishkill Correctional Facility, Joey told his mother that a  corrections officer had slapped him in the head, breaking his cochlear implant, which allows him to hear.

The family says he was without the device for six months and couldn’t communicate or express himself properly.  He also began acting out and getting written-up as a discipline problem.

State Corrections officials say “We have addressed medical needs for this particular inmate and have an active medical care plan in place.”

They say Joey was denied parole because of bad behavior. The Parole Board said his release would be “incompatible with the public safety and welfare…”

His mother says his behavior reflects the nature of his treatment behind bars. She fears he will languish in a cell without any hope of improving his life.

She says her son is only one credit hour away from receiving a special high school diploma.

She says her hope now is that  “he just gets help and schooling, and makes something out of the mess he’s in.”