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When you hear or see the word justice-involved, you might be confused. What exactly does that mean? What comes to mind is police officers or lawyers, people that are involved with the justice system. But that isn’t what justice-involved means.

In this post, we will clear up the confusion about the meaning of the term justice-involved.

Because we are seeing a shift in the way society refers to people who have been involved in the justice system, the term justice-involved is now a term that is being used.


According to, justice-involved specifically means "having had interactions with the criminal justice system as a defendant."

So what we have known as a felon, a convict, a criminal, an offender, or a parolee is now changing to being called justice-involved. This also goes for terms such as probationer and parolee. 

The idea behind making this shift is that terms like felon and convict are derogatory and harmful to the people they refer to and carry a heavy, negative weight. explains that these derogatory words are stigmatizing and harmful. These words are used to label and stereotype people. Replacing these negatively connotative words with what calls “person-centric” words, is necessary for justice-involved individuals to reform and be successful in life.


The way society is using and, more importantly, viewing people who have been convicted of a crime needs to move to more people-centric words to “empower and humanize” those who have been involved in the justice system. According to, the connotations of terms like felon can have an everlasting, negative effect on people who have been incarcerated. 

Even after a term in jail or prison is completed successfully, people who are justice-involved often deal with labels such as ex-con, ex-offender, or ex-prisoner, always carrying on the negative label of their past. Using less harmful speech will help support justice-involved individuals as they rebuild and move on with their lives.


The point being made by the shifting of words used to describe justice-involved individuals is that words have power and a negative effect on the people who fall under their definitions. The next time you hear the words justice-involved, remember that it is a term used to describe a person who has been in the justice system as a defendant. More importantly, keep in mind that the use of the term justice-involved humanizes these people. It is necessary for us to move away from the harmful stigma that comes with the terms we have been accustomed to hearing and using.  

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  1. “Justice-Involved.” Wiktionary,  

  2. “Language of Incarceration.” LINC Inc,  

  3. “Words Matter: Using Humanizing Language.” The Fortune Society, 7 Dec. 2020,​​​​​​​



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