NEW YORK (PIX11) — Some of New York’s laws are getting a rewrite: the word “inmate” will be swapped with “incarcerated individual” in state legislation after Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill on Monday.
The change is designed to “reduce harmful stigma against incarcerated people by correcting outdated terminology used to refer to incarcerated individuals in state law,” according to her office. Advocates have also decried the usage of felon, prisoner and convict.
“In New York, we’re doing everything in our power to show that justice and safety can go hand-in-hand,” Gov. Hochul said. “We can make our streets and communities safer by giving justice-involved individuals the chance to complete their rehabilitation program and work at the same time. By treating all New Yorkers with dignity and respect, we can improve public safety while ensuring New Yorkers have a fair shot at a second chance.”
The bill in the state Senate was sponsored by Sen. Gustavo Rivera. The version in the Assembly was sponsored by Assemblymember Jeffrion L. Aubry.
“For too long, we as a society have thought of incarcerated individuals as less than people,” Gustavo said. “The use of the word ‘inmate’ further dehumanizes and demoralizes them. This is another concrete step our State is taking to make our criminal justice system one that focuses on rehabilitation, rather than relying solely on punishment.”