U.S. City: You Can No Longer Call a Felon… a Felon

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors says terms such as “felon” and “inmate” are a dehumanizing way of referring to individuals with a criminal record, and have adopted a new set of guidelines requiring the use of alternative, “person-first” labels.

The resolution approved by all members present last month states that “dehumanizing language like ‘prisoner, ‘convict,’ inmate,’ or ‘felon’ only serve to obstruct and separate from society and make the institutionalization of racism and supremacy appear normal.”

Several new descriptive terms were provided to “serve as models of appropriate use of person-first language.” For instance, instead of referring to an individual as an “inmate,” one should use the term, “currently incarcerated person.” Rather than call someone a “juvenile offender,” the person should be described as a “young person impacted by the justice system.” . . .

Supervisor Matt Haney explained the measure to the San Francisco Chronicle, saying, “We don’t want people to be forever labeled for the worst things that they have done. We want them ultimately to become contributing citizens, and referring to them as felons is like a scarlet letter that they can never get away from.”

According to the Chronicle, “the district attorney’s office is already on board.” But the resolution is nonbinding, and Mayor London Breed did not sign off on it because, according to her spokesperson, she “doesn’t implement policies based on nonbinding resolutions.” (Read more from “U.S. City: You Can No Longer Call a Felon… a Felon” HERE)

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