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Submitted 8:59 a.m.
04.06.2015
Letter to the Editor

We made the editorial decision back in 1992 or 1993 to use the terms prisoner, guard, detainee, prison, jail., etc., because they are accurate.”

Paul Wright

We made the editorial decision back in 1992 or 1993 to use the terms prisoner, guard, detainee, prison, jail., etc., because they are accurate. Of the modest reforms of the 1970s the biggest ones were in language. Prisoners became inmates, guards became correctional officers, prisons became correctional centers. We reject these euphemisms, very little “correcting” happens in prison. Prisoners are held against their will which is the definition of prisoner. We also use torture to describe it rather than enhanced interrogation.

Pretty much this whole shift in language in the past 40 years has been designed and calculated to sugar coat and make acceptable the most vile of human rights abuses and dress it up in the language of respectability. Sadly a lot of non profits are being co opted into this at the behest of their foundation funders to perpetuate this and I think a lot of it borders on the silly.

No one has come up with a PC name for someone convicted of a felony who has not been in prison.

I was held prisoner for 17 years and I describe myself as a former prisoner. I think if that title was good enough for Jack London, Lead Belly, Vladimir Lenin, Malcolm X, etc., its good enough for me.

Paul Wright, Prison Legal News

 
These letters written in response to
Commentary April 3, 2015
What to call incarcerated people: Your feedback