The language that we use

How can we stop such stigmatizing?

  • Become aware of unconscious bias
  • Learn about the issues
  • Change the language that we use
  • Become an ally
  • Build compassion
  • Replace microaggressions with microaffirmations

Read about the Marshall Project’s initiative focusing on the language we use to describe people involved with the justice system:

Some scholars and practitioners in the area have moved from using the term “criminal justice system” in their writing to “criminal legal system” because of recognition that the system is often unjust.

However, many families prefer the term “justice-involved” and that is why it is used in this training.

“Think of how a child might feel when their parent is called ‘criminal’. To children they are moms and dads first and forever. #WordsMatter and can signal to a child struggling with their parent’s incarceration that you are a safe space. Creating safe spaces fr children whose parents are incarcerated can reduce stigma and negative effects of separation from a parent. Join us in using thoughtful language when speaking of and with people with carceral system involvement and their families. Together, we can change the narrative.”

Course Syllabus

Not Enrolled
Scope of the Issue
Does the US really incarcerate more people than any other country in the world?
How has the number of people incarcerated in the US changed over time?
Key terms
How many people are arrested each year in the US?
Why are there such stark racial and economic inequities in incarceration in the US?
What role do jails play in mass incarceration?
How many people are on probation or parole?
How many women are incarcerated in the US?
Section 1 Quiz
Intersecting Vulnerabilities
What proportion of people who are incarcerated have health and mental health concerns?
What proportion of people who are incarcerated have substance use disorders?
Co-occurence of mental health and substance use disorders in people who were arrested
How are biomedical scientists re-envisioning how the justice system responds to the opioid crisis?
Pregnant women and substance use disorder
Nora’s blog: Pregnant people with substance use disorders need treatment, not criminalization
Section 2 Quiz
"We Are Just Kids"
How many parents are incarcerated in the US?
How many children have a parent incarcerated in jail or prison in the US?
Where do children live during parental incarceration?
Parental incarceration as an adverse childhood experience
What child outcomes are associated with parental incarceration?
Is parental incarceration ever helpful for children?
Does parental incarceration affect children differently depending on the child’s age at the time of the experience?
What is associated with increased stress for children with incarcerated parents?
A parent’s arrest, even if it does not lead to incarceration, can also be challenging for children
Racial Inequities in Arrests
Stressors associated with parental justice system involvement
Stressors and recidivism
Resilience processes for children are more likely when ...
From Stigma to Support
Studies on stigma and incarceration
The language that we use
Can you change your thinking?
Sesame Street in Communities
Listening to youth voices
What can HBCD teams do to support justice-involved families in research?
How policies can respond to parental incarceration
Further reading
Section 4 Quiz
Closing video