One of my pet peeves is when news organizations confuse Prisons and Jails, and parole and probation. There is a big difference between these, especially here in Calif.
As for what we call people who are locked up, when I was inside (discharged 2001), convicts were guys who knew how to do time. They knew all the ins & outs of doing time. They knew how to make all the gadgets that one needs to do time. They know every nook & cranny of a yard. They knew the politics of the yard. They followed the old school rules. These guys didn't get into any crashes. They stayed out of the mix at all cost. They were doing time, time wasn't doing them.
Prisoners were guys doing their time, and trying to make the most of it. I always got the feeling that for the most part these guys weren't going to change at all, and would be coming right back. They would get into the mix. Cellphones, drugs, tobacco, Ink, etc., these guys ran it. These guys ran the yard, and created most of the drama. Most of the guys doing time were prisoners. They objected the most at being called inmates.
Inmates were the new guys, or guys who just never settled in. They had calendars, they would crash occasionally because they would violate a rule they didn't know about. They needed to be schooled. They would get called names like lame, dump trucks, etc. They were for the most part clueless. One of the things that shocked me the most when I hit my first yard, was guys who would just go and shoot the shit with the CO's. WTF is that all about. These are inmates. However, the CO's pretty much called everyone an inmate. I would rarely hear a CO call anyone a convict. It happened but was rare.
As for people on the outside, I find most people call us prisoners, some say inmates, but it is rare to hear anyone call someone a convict. I think they think it is a derogatory term. I find for the most part people don't really care what someone would like to be called. They have a very distorted view of doing time, and they are OK with that...They may say they are interested, but after a few minutes their eyes glass over, and they quit asking questions. People don't like hearing that what they believe isn't reality.