No More ‘Convicts’ or ‘Felons’ If San Francisco Passes Criminal Justice Language Proposal

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An inmate in the Offender Mentor Certification Program at Solano State Prison listens during class. (Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

An inmate in the Offender Mentor Certification Program at Solano State Prison listens during class.
(Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

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San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors wants to sanitize language in the criminal justice system.

In a proposal to the city and county of San Francisco, words like “felon,” “offender,”“convict” and “parolee” would be swapped for what’s described as people-first language — phrases that strip any objectification or pejorative descriptions for more neutral and positive descriptors.

Some examples include changing “felon” and “offender” to “returning resident” or “formerly incarcerated person.” A “parolee” could be described as a “person under supervision.” “Convict” could be referred to as a “currently incarcerated person,” while a “juvenile offender” or “delinquent’ would be described as a “young person impacted by the justice system.”

The board noted that about 1 in every 5 Californians has a criminal record and the language that often accompanies those records can dehumanize and devalue the individual.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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