The Justice Department says traditional terms for criminals such as "felon" and "convict" are "disparaging" and will no longer be used by the agency.
In a column published in The Washington Post,
Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason writes that from now on, less "disparaging labels" will be assigned to those who have broken the law.
The new terms could include "person who committed a crime" and "individual who was incarcerated.
"I have come to believe that we have a responsibility to reduce not only the physical but also the psychological barriers to reintegration," Mason writes.
"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."
Mason noted the change in terminology "in no way means condoning criminal or delinquent behavior."
But, she said, "Our words have power. They shape and color our estimations and judgments. They can build up or tear down.
"The hundreds of thousands of people who come out of our prisons on an annual basis and the millions more who cycle through local jails need to hear that they are capable of making a change for the better."
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