Re: “DOC doing away with the standard terms to describe inmates” (TNT, 11/4)
First of all, I would like to applaud the Department of Correction’s initiative to use less stigmatizing language about its inmates. The effect of stigma on incarcerated people and their families is very real, and stigma, including self-stigma, can have seriously negative effects on reintegration into society and recovery from mental health conditions.
It is disappointing to see elected officials fighting to maintain the use of stigmatizing language (exclusively referring to inmates as “offenders”). The implication that using non-stigmatizing language to refer to inmates could somehow lead to deadly communication errors betrays a dangerous attitude: that thinking of inmates as anything other than criminals is inherently risky.
A group of senators demanding the DOC share their views on prison inmates is, ironically, painfully Orwellian.