Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 33° Cloudy
News >  Pacific NW

Prison officials softening terms used to label inmates

In this Aug. 16 file photo, an inmate is led out of his east block cell on death row at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif. Washington prison officials are changing how they label inmates. (Eric Risberg / Associated Press)
In this Aug. 16 file photo, an inmate is led out of his east block cell on death row at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif. Washington prison officials are changing how they label inmates. (Eric Risberg / Associated Press)
Associated Press

SEATTLE – The state Department of Corrections is changing the language it uses to describe Washington’s nearly 19,000 people behind bars.

KOMO-TV reported that corrections Secretary Richard Morgan sent a memo to staff saying those serving time in prison will no longer be referred to as prisoners, offenders or convicts. Instead, they will be called students if they are in some type of class and patients if they are in the prison infirmary. Spokesman Jeremy Barclay says if no other moniker applies, they will be identified as incarcerated persons.

The change is meant to help remove negative connotations surrounding terms, such as “offender” and “convict.”

Barclay says it’s also about allowing those in Washington’s 12 state prisons to have a positive self-image.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.


Annual health and dental insurance enrollment period open now

 (Courtesy Washington Healthplanfinder)
Sponsored

2020 has been a stressful year for myriad reasons.