San Francisco pushes to rebrand 'convicted felons' as 'formerly incarcerated person', drops other criminal justice language

SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco moved forward to sanitize its language used within the criminal justice system, dropping words such as "felon" and "juvenile delinquent" while changing "convicted felon" to "formerly incarcerated person."

The city's board of supervisors approved "person-first" guidelines when referring to people with a criminal record.

Words such as "felon," "offender," "convict," "addict" and "juvenile delinquent" will all be dropped.

Changes also include a "juvenile delinquent" being referred to as a "young person with justice system involvement" or "young person impacted by the justice system."

Officials said they don't want people to be labeled indefinitely for the crimes that they previously committed.

The board also stated that about 1 in every 5 Californians has a criminal record, and the language that is often associated with that record can have a lasting negative effect on the individual.

"Language shapes the ideas, perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, and actions of individuals, societies, and governments," the board wrote. "Language usage that emphasizes or prioritizes a criminal record over the individual undermines, devalues, dehumanizes, demoralizes and dishonors the humanity of that individual."

The non-binding resolution was approved last month in a near-unanimous vote.
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