In response to New York Governor Kathy Hochul signing a legislative package to “promote greater fairness and restore dignity for individuals that have been affected by the criminal justice system,” JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA) President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins released the following statement: “JustLeadershipUSA acknowledges the importance of this move by Governor Hochul to see those of us who are formerly and currently incarcerated as people worthy of human dignity and for bringing humanizing language to all New York state laws and operations by recognizing us as people first.
“Even in the Governor’s statement announcing this legislation, the term ‘parolee’ was used multiple times to describe people who have been released from jail or prison temporarily (or permanently) before the completion of a term of incarceration. This is just an example of how easy it is to slip into using non-‘People First’ language, even while talking about what is overall positive legislation.
“Last year, JLUSA joined other partner organizations, including FWD.us, to release a report entitled ‘People First: The Use and Impact of Criminal Justice Labels in Media Coverage.’ That report, with its guidelines and recommendations for journalists, is still extremely relevant and timely to this discussion, and we commend it to anyone covering criminal legal reform in this country.
“We must continue to keep this conversation and progress moving forward around how we talk about people who have been directly impacted by the criminal legal system to preserve and uphold each person’s inherent humanity and dignity.”