A Way To Recognize The People Who Have Been Locked Up

US Federal Prison education session
William Anderson
February 19, 2020

The way we talk changes daily. The words we use and the way we describe certain people, places, and things is always transforming. So, naturally this would be the case with how we talk about people locked inside prison. It may also matter even more when they leave prison too.

States like Pennsylvania and Washington have dropped terms like “offender,” “felon,” and “ex-con” when it comes to describing those that have been incarcerated. That’s because it’s becoming understood that it’s wrong to define people by their mistakes for many reasons.

Among other terms some departments of corrections are discarding, “inmate” makes the list. These words don’t stop inside prisons, they often follow people outside hence the term “ex-con” which can punish someone for the rest of their life despite any changes for the better.

People do have names after all and some people who have been surveyed prefer the term incarcerated person. The stigma attached to terms that describe people who are currently and formerly incarcerated means a lot of judgement, lost opportunities, and discrimination.

Just because someone has (or hasn’t) committed a crime and ended up in prison it doesn’t mean they’re no longer a human being. How we talk about people in prison matters and the last thing we should want to do is take away anyone’s value as a person just because.

We have a quick favor to ask:

PushBlack is a nonprofit dedicated to raising up Black voices. We are a small team but we have an outsized impact:

  • We reach tens of millions of people with our BLACK NEWS & HISTORY STORIES every year.
  • We fight for CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM to protect our community.
  • We run VOTING CAMPAIGNS that reach over 10 million African-Americans across the country.

And as a nonprofit, we rely on small donations from subscribers like you.

With as little as $5 a month, you can help PushBlack raise up Black voices. It only takes a minute, so will you please ?

Share This Article: