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Pa. Department of Corrections to Stop Using 'Felon,' 'Offender'

Pa. Department of Corrections to Stop Using 'Felon,' 'Offender'
Secretary of Corrections John E. Wetzel in Pennsylvania. (Photo by Kate Patterson for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 25 May 2016 04:25 PM EDT

John E. Wetzel, the secretary of Pennsylvania's Department of Corrections, said that he is moving toward ending the use of terms "felon" and "offender" for people who have served prison terms and been released, reports The Washington Post.

In an essay for the Post, Wetzel wrote, "I'm embracing 'people first' language for everyone — including those who committed a crime."

The Post had reported earlier that a Justice Department agency was making that change to help those who'd been released return to society more easily.

He said that making the change doesn't change the crimes that were committed. "I do not excuse their behavior or minimize the impact they've had on those they've offended, nor do I disrespect victims by respecting those who have victimized."

Wetzel said changing the terminology could help the former prisoners acclimate back into society more easily. He said, "We call our system the 'corrections system,' and surely respect for humanity is an essential element of that."

The secretary said he believes that words have positive effects. "When we create an inspirational narrative, that also has a positive effect. So I won't keep using words that impede our goals."

Wetzel said that the new term to describe formerly jailed citizens would be "reentrant."

One Department of Justice press release used the term "justice-involved youth."

The Washington Examiner reports that Republican Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee objected to the Justice Department's change of terms.

"Is the Department of Justice a month behind with their April Fool's joke, or are they really this tone deaf?" Black said. 

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John E. Wetzel, the secretary of Pennsylvania's Department of Corrections, said that he is moving toward ending the use of terms "felon" and "offender" for people who have served prison terms and been released, reports The Washington Post.
pennsylvania, corrections, stop, felon, offender, terms
258
2016-25-25
Wednesday, 25 May 2016 04:25 PM
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