Frank Report picked this up from one of our correspondents who got it from Governing.com, which got it from the Auburn Citizen, which got it from Tribune News Service, which got it from reporter Robert Harding, who presumably got it from the New York State government, possibly from a press release from the governor’s office, who got it from the governor, or from the NYS Assembly and/or the NYS Senate or possibly some other wire service or potentially a justice reform group.
New York to Replace ‘Inmate’ With ‘Incarcerated Individual’
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that replaces ‘inmate’ with ‘incarcerated individual’ for the Dept. of Corrections.
The old term is “derogatory and dehumanizing.”
The law takes effect immediately.
In New York State, the Department of Corrections, which oversees New York’s 50 state prisons and its 32,000 prisoners will now call the latter “incarcerated individuals.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation this week that replaces the word “inmate” or “inmates” with “incarcerated individual” or “incarcerated individuals.” The bill passed the state Assembly and Senate with bipartisan support in June.
State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, who sponsored the bill, thanked formerly incarcerated individuals for an epiphany of understanding.
He said they told him, “I’m a person. I’m not an inmate. I’m not a convict. I’m not a prisoner.”
“That education actually led to this moment,” Rivera said before the Senate passed the bill. “I want to thank each and every [formerly incarcerated individual] for educating me on that subject.”
The report also quotes the Vera Institute of Justice’s Think Justice blog’s, writer Erica Bryant who wrote that “convict,” “felon” and “inmate” are outdated words and harmful to incarcerated individuals.
Bryant, in turn, quotes formerly incarcerated individual Jerome Wright, who now is part of #HALTSolitary [confinement] Campaign in New York.
Wright said that “the language begins to be totally derogatory, debasing and dehumanizing.”
- “inmate” suggests that “incarcerated people should be permanently demonized and stigmatized”
- It is used to “discriminate against people who are or have been involved in the criminal legal system.”
- “Using terms such as ‘incarcerated individual’ recognizes the humanity of people
- It exemplifies the redeemable value of human beings.
- Studies have shown these terminologies have an inadvertent and adverse impact on individuals’ employment, housing and other communal opportunities.
- This can impact one’s transition from incarceration, potential for recidivism, and societal perception.
The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision will no longer use “inmate” but “incarcerated individual” in all its statements, written, verbal, or otherwise.
A Humble Suggestion
Instead of changing the words – change the dehumanizing conditions of prison.