"A person who committed a crime" is shown behind bars. (AP File Photo)
(CNSNews.com) - The Justice Department's decision to avoid using the words "convict" and "felon" to describe convicts and felons is more political correctness run amok," Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) warned on Thursday.
DOJ's Office of Justice Programs has called the two words "disparaging" and harmful to formerly incarcerated individuals as they transition from prison back into society.
Black called the Justice Department "tone deaf."
She said the words convict and felon are "quite generous," considering some of the phrases that could be applied to certain criminals in DOJ's custody.
"While the DOJ is apparently worried about the hurt feelings of those who broke our laws, I am more interested in hearing from the families of these criminals’ victims. I have a strong feeling this language shift is not high on their priority list," Black said in a news release.
"Further, I can assure the DOJ that the use of these words is not preventing felons from reintegrating into society after serving their sentence. The fact that this agency would even make that suggestion – and, in doing so, ignore the personal responsibility that these ex-offenders must assume for themselves – is reckless and wrong.
"Once again, Washington bureaucracies are rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Our country is in trouble and government agencies are busy thinking up politically correct terms for convicts and illegal aliens. It defies comprehension and does not solve a single problem facing Americans’ daily lives today.”
As part of National Reentry Week, U.S. Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason announced on Wednesday that she recently issued an agency-wide policy directing DOJ employees to "consider how the language we use affects re-entry success."
"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," she wrote in the Washington Post on Wednesday.
"This new policy statement replaces unnecessarily disparaging labels with terms like 'person who committed a crime' and 'individual who was incarcerated,' decoupling past actions from the person being described and anticipating the contributions we expect them to make when they return.
"We will be using the new terminology in speeches, solicitations, website content, and social media posts, and I am hopeful that other agencies and organizations will consider doing the same."