Kathy Hochul signs law requiring New York use term 'incarcerated individual' instead of 'inmate'

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New York’s Governor Kathy Hochul, who is running to hold her unelected seat this November, has broken out the word games for New Yorkers yet again by demanding that criminals be instead referred to as “justice-involved individuals.” The language isn’t simply altered within a new piece of legislation, altering the language is part of the new law itself.

The law is in two parts, the first is “to promote greater fairness and restore dignity” for criminals, calling these individuals “justice-involved individuals,” and the second part is to require that prison inmates be referred to as “incarcerated individuals” from now on.

Hochul, who does not use the term “woman” when discussing laws on pregnancy and reproduction, has determined that the term “inmate” is “stigmatizing,” and should not appear in state law.

The language substantially takes the responsibility for the commission of their crimes off of them, and places it on the system which tried and punished them for it. The reduction in “stigma” that the law seeks to engender will, additionally, only be short lived. There is a social stigma involved with being an inmate, being incarcerated, being a “justice-involved individual,” and the new lingo of “incarcerated individual” will not change that. Changing the language to suit a trend does not change the implicit meaning behind the concept.

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