- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 5, 2016

The decision by a Justice Department office to cease using the words “convict” and “felon” in official communications ignores “the personal responsibility that these ex-offenders must assume for themselves,” said Rep. Diane Black.

Responding to Wednesday’s announcement that the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs would no longer use the “disparaging labels” when officials refer to individuals convicted of crimes, the Tennessee Republican was critical of the message the decision sent to crime victims.

“The words ‘convict’ and ‘felon’ are not disparaging, in fact they are quite generous compared to some of the phrases we could accurately ascribe to certain criminals in the DOJ’s custody,” Ms. Black said. “While the DOJ is apparently worried about the hurt feelings of those who broke our laws, I am more interested in hearing from the families of these criminals’ victims. I have a strong feeling this language shift is not high on their priority list.”

The Office of Justice Programs plans to substitute terminology such as “person who committed a crime” and “individual who was incarcerated” in speeches and other communications as part of an effort to remove barriers that officials say hinder progress of those who re-enter society after completing their prison sentences.

Ms. Black compared the shift in semantics to a decision made earlier this year by the Library of Congress to replace the subject headings for “illegal alien” with the terms “non citizens” and “unauthorized immigration.”

Following the Library of Congress’ announcement, which deemed “alien” a pejorative term, Ms. Black introduced the Stopping Partisan Policy at the Library of Congress Act, which would require the continued use of the terms “alien” and “illegal alien.”

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