It’s admittedly tough for convicts to jump back into non-criminal civilization. They have to re-enter society armed with nothing but their subpar decision-making skills and face tattoos. On top of that, the general consensus is that nobody really wants them around. For reasons that are self-explanatory.
But the Justice Department doesn’t see it the same way you and I do. You know, those of use who didn’t get the face tattoo in the joint. Obama’s DOJ thinks labels like “criminal” are far too stigmatizing. It’s a bit harsh, says the DOJ head. Sure, they may be people so bad at life they were kept in a 6×8 steel box for years to keep society safe. But they’re still people.
Come on, it’s not like they murdered anybody. Here’s what U.S. Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason had to say on the matter:
[L]egal and regulatory barriers are formidable, but many of the formerly incarcerated men, women, and young people I talk with say that no punishment is harsher than being permanently branded a “felon” or “offender.” I have come to believe that we have a responsibility to reduce not only the physical but also psychological barriers to reintegration.
Did you catch that? There were about twenty five thousand more words there than necessary. But to sum it up..
First, convicts don’t get permanently “branded” as felons. If anything, they brand themselves. Usually with the aforementioned face tattoos. Teardrop ones. More importantly, people who go to prison did something to get there. Like breaking laws and stuff. It’s important to note nobody forced them to break the law. So it’s nobody’s “responsibility” to make life easier for them. In fact, that sort of defeats the whole point of sending someone to prison. Your life is supposed to suck after you break the law. That’s what we call a deterrent.
But it gets worse.
In an effort to solidify the second chances that our society stands for, I recently issued an agency-wide policy directing our employees to consider how the language we use affects reentry success.
Language we use. I have some advice before you continue reading.
Grabbing hard? Okay…
This new policy statement replaces unnecessarily disparaging labels with terms like “person who committed a crime” and “individual who was incarcerated,” decoupling past actions from the person being described and anticipating the contributions we expect them to make when they return. We will be using the new terminology in speeches, solicitations, website content, and social media posts, and I am hopeful that other agencies and organizations will consider doing the same.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. This issue has been rearing its ugly head for a while now. (see SAN FRANCISCO: Term ‘Criminal’ Now Offensive. Guess Why…) Still, this shouldn’t be an issue in the first place. Convicts already get second chances. Most of them get to leave prison eventually. What more do you want? Social approval? Sure, there should be socially viable second chances. For truants and trespassers. Minor shoplifters, maybe. Those with a verifiable record of murder or rape?
There’s a simple solution to this issue. Don’t want to be labeled as a felon? Don’t be a felon.
Also, we’re talking about words. Words, people. These guys who have been to prison? They’re not delicate flowers. In fact if someone in da clink got all hurty over a word, guess what would happen to him next. No seriously, think about it. Someone in the slammer calls someone else in the slammer a name. The mockee cries about what the mocker said. What happens to the mockee? Imagine it. Conversely, what happens if the mockee is bigger, stronger, and has more friends than the mocker? In either scenario, someone is going to get bitch-slapped. That’s best case scenario.
Also, they’re criminals. I’m not going to not call them criminals. Suck on that.