Labels Create Barriers

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Labels Create Barriers

We believe that words are powerful and can be very stigmatizing and harmful when used to label our citizens who are or were formerly incarcerated. Let’s be clear, the individuals are first and foremost human beings!

We all need to remember that people released from prison or jail share common and descriptive names with everyone else in society to include: grandparent, parent, son and daughter, extended family member, friend, neighbor, colleague and employee. These are the only type of names that should ever be used to describe a person.

When talking about people who have been involved in the criminal justice system, here are labels to avoid and terms that are acceptable:

NEVER USE

Convict

ex-Con

Inmate

ex-Inmate

Offender

ex-Offender

Criminal

Prisoner

Felon

ex-Felon

Parolee

Probationer

ACCEPTABLE DESCRIPTIVE WORDS

Person

Individual

Citizen

Returning Citizen

Community Member

Incarcerated Individual

Incarcerated Person

Formerly Incarcerated Individual

Resident

Formerly Incarcerated Person