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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.
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.
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.
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.
Inside Story March 11
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.
News March 20, 2019
Dial-an-interpreter services rankle judges who want in-person translators.
Life Inside December 14, 2017
Where the culture was Hispanic, ‘Me llamo Morgan’ got me started.