DOJ prison reentry

DOJ No Longer Using the Terms Felon or Convict

In an effort to facilitate a smoother transition for those released from prison and jail back into society, the Department of Justice said it will no longer call such people “felons” or “convicts.”

Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason wrote a piece in The Washington Post Wednesday saying “many of the formerly incarcerated men, women, and young people I talk with say that no punishment is harsher than being permanently branded a ‘felon’ or ‘offender.'”

Instead of the “unnecessarily disparaging labels,” the policy recommends using terms like ““person who committed a crime” and “individual who was incarcerated.” Moving forward, the DOJ will use this new terminology in speeches, solicitations, web content, and social media posts, and hopes other agencies will follow in suite.

Mason went on to say:

In my role as head of the division of the Justice Department that funds and supports hundreds of reentry programs throughout the country, I have come to believe that we have a responsibility to reduce not only the physical but also the psychological barriers to reintegration.  The labels we affix to those who have served time can drain their sense of self-worth and perpetuate a cycle of crime, the very thing reentry programs are designed to prevent.  In an effort to solidify the principles of individual redemption and second chances that our society stands for, I recently issued an agency-wide policy directing our employees to consider how the language we use affects reentry success.


During National Reentry Week last week, the DOJ also asked states to provide identification to convicts who served their sentences and created a council to remove barriers to the recently released prisoners’ assimilation into everyday life.

This is one of many steps the Obama administration took to aid recently released offenders. Notably, in 2015, President Obama announced federal agencies would no longer ask candidates if they were felons in the early stages of the job application process.

Posted in General News

Tags: DOJ, National Reentry Week

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