The Milwaukee House of Correction (HOC) is no longer calling inmates "inmates" following a directive from new Superintendent Chantell Jewell.
"Effective immediately, House of Correction staff are directed to use terms both verbally and in writing that are humane and create a culture of mutual respect," reads an April 8 memo obtained by "The Dan O'Donnell Show."
"Instead of Inmate, Offender, Prisoner, Parolee, Criminal, [or] Convict," the memo requires HOC staff to call an inmate "Their Name, Resident, Person in Custody, Individual in Custody, [or] Incarcerated Individual." A "Detainee" must now be called a "Person in Immigration Detention," and an "Illegal Immigrant" is now a "Person Without Lawful Status."
"As Milwaukee County continues to work toward achieving racial equity and becoming the healthiest county in Wisconsin, it is incumbent upon the staff members of the HOC to collectively raise our voices to positively impact our community," Jewell wrote in an email to staff announcing the new directive. "At the HOC, all staff are expected to refrain from using dehumanizing language to refer to the men/women in our custody. Language is powerful. We will not strip individuals in custody of their dignity by using language that diminishes them to a past act or doesn't leave space for growth.
"Language such as 'convict,' 'inmate,' 'felon,' 'offender,' and 'prisoner' aims to identify humans by their past missteps. There are better alternative words that center around human dignity and respect."
The Milwaukee House of Correction, which is located in the suburb of Franklin, houses approximately 1,000 inmates who are typically serving sentences of less than one year. The front page of the facility's website still links to its "Inmate Search."