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Bo-Won Keum is a designer, researcher and critic based in Brooklyn, New York. She is also the co-editor and designer of "Dear Books to Prisoners," a book compiling incarcerated people’s writings on access to books in prison.
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.
While we have to be aware that any word we choose has influence, no amount of Googling will reveal the magic word that brings justice into American prisons.
Of course not everyone means harm when they use prison labels. But that doesn’t make the language any less damaging.
Rethinking the words journalists use to talk about people who are currently or previously incarcerated.
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.
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.
Feature March 24
After the success of her novel Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen spent years trying to prove a man's innocence. Now she’s “absolutely broke” and “seriously ill,” and her next book is “years past deadline.”
Coronavirus December 18, 2020
Even as the first Americans begin to receive vaccines, the spread of coronavirus behind bars shows no sign of slowing.