- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 22, 2019

That tough customer with the teardrop tattoo is no longer an ex-con: He’s a “formerly incarcerated individual,” a “returning resident,” or simply “justice involved.”

At least, that’s now the case in San Francisco, where the Board of Supervisors approved a resolution last month urging city departments to adopt “people-first language with respect to people with criminal records.”

Other examples of the criminal-justice rebranding include:

* Parolee: Change to “person on parole” or “person under supervision”

* Drug offender or drug abuser: “Person convicted of a drug offense”

* Convict or inmate: “Currently incarcerated person”

* Violent offender: “Person convicted of a violent/serious offense”

* Illegal alien: “Person” or “individual”

* Addict: “Person with a history of substance use”

* Juvenile delinquent: “Young person with justice system involvement”

Such descriptions may be wordier and in some cases less clear — subbing “person” for “illegal alien” doesn’t quite capture the individual’s immigration status — but the board ruled that labels such as “inmate” were “dehumanizing.”



“Language usage that emphasizes or prioritizes a criminal record over the individual undermines, devalues, dehumanizes, demoralizes and dishonors the humanity of that individual,” said the July 16 resolution.

Terms like “convict” and “felon” also “make the institutionalization of racism and supremacy appear normal,” said the board, although presumably convicts and felons come from all race and ethnic categories.

The nonbinding resolution approved by the board July 16 has not been signed by Mayor London Breed, who “doesn’t implement policies based on nonbinding resolutions,” spokesman Jeff Cretan told the San Francisco Chronicle.

At the same time, “she is always happy to work with the board on issues around equity and criminal justice reform,” he said.

The resolution also said that about one in five Californians has a criminal record.

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