Marshall Project Originals
Issue 8 of News Inside takes on the words that define and label incarcerated people.
How I Convinced My Incarcerated Peers to Make Language a Priority
Rahsaan Thomas, an imprisoned journalist, has long fought to change the way outside media describe people in prison. One of his toughest crowds? His fellow reporters.
Good Intentions Don’t Blunt the Impact of Dehumanizing Words
Of course not everyone means harm when they use prison labels. But that doesn’t make the language any less damaging.
The Language Project
Rethinking the words journalists use to talk about people who are currently or previously incarcerated.
What Words We Use — and Avoid — When Covering People and Incarceration
Journalism is a discipline of clarity. That’s why we’ve solidified our policy about how we talk about people who are currently in or have previously been in prison and jail.
I Am Not Your ‘Inmate’
I didn’t always detest this term. But hearing officers use it as an insult reminded me to call incarcerated people — including myself — by our names.
I Was Trained to Call Prisoners a Word They Hated
As correctional officers, we are conditioned to call prisoners ‘inmates.’ But at Sing Sing, where I worked for 25 years, that was as bad as calling them a snitch.
The Making of “Superpredators”
The first edition of The Marshall Project’s new video series, designed for audiences inside and outside of prison, examines a toxic media myth that damaged a generation of Black youth.