The U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs is no longer going to be using “disparaging” terms like “felon” and “convict” to describe individuals who have been convicted of crimes.
One of the problems with the current terminology used to describe convicted criminals, said Karol Mason, the assistant attorney general, is that convicted criminals have a lower “sense of self-worth” when they are constantly referred to as “felons” and “convicts.” This, argued Mason, can ultimately cause them to go back to committing crimes “and perpetuate a cycle of crime, the very thing reentry programs are designed to prevent.”
The US Justice Department uses similar language in its Roadmap to Reentry Plan, a step-by-step plan aimed at lowering recidivism rates by making it easier for convicted criminals to become contributing members of society after being released from prison. The federal agency’s plan, detailed in the official document, declares that the barriers faced by convicts and felons in this country “can contribute to a cycle of incarceration that makes it difficult for even the most well-intentioned individuals to stay on the right path and stay out of the criminal justice system.” Importantly, the terms “felon” and “convict” are nowhere to be found in the Roadmap to Reentry Plan.
The reality is that life can be very hard for a person in prison and even harder when the person is released from prison. When someone with a criminal record tries to obtain housing, they often find that landlords are reluctant to rent to someone with a criminal conviction on their record. Moreover, job applicants with criminal histories can struggle to get past the initial interview process because background checks may reveal their convictions. Beyond that, convicted criminals could end up being denied when they attempt to better themselves by pursuing opportunities for higher education or seeking to obtain loans to start a business.
For further information, view the Washington Times article, “Justice Department Program to No Longer Use ‘Disparaging’ Terms ‘Felons’ and ‘Convicts.’”
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