"If you're going to San Francisco, You're gonna meet some gentle people there," Scott McKenzie sang decades ago. And San Francisco didn't forget that all people can be "gentle," so it decided to rebrand felons and offenders as "justice-involved" persons.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed in last month a resolution, that directs all city's agencies and departments to use the new, "more appropriate" language and terms. "Dehumanizing language like prisoner convict, inmate or felon only serve to obstruct and separate people from society and make the institutionalization of racism and supremacy appear normal," the legislation states.
And the list of new, "proper" terms is quite long and doesn't end with "justice-involved" persons. So what is the name for juvenile delinquents, according to the new law?
"Young persons impacted by the justice system," that is the new term. Ex-cons? - "returning residents."
“We don’t want people to be forever labeled for the worst things that they have done,” explains Supervisor Matt Haney. He also added that the city wants "them ultimately to become contributing citizens, and referring to them as felons is like a scarlet letter that they can never get away from."
But it's not certain if the language can change the current situation in San Francisco. The city is struggling with the homeless crisis, just like Los Angeles, Portland or Seattle. It also has the highest property crime rate in the country and is facing another serious problem – drug epidemic.
It's also not the first time when San Francisco changes its official language, used in its institutions. Like Daily Mail reported, just recently "Berkeley City Council adopted an ordinance revising the city’s municipal code to ban he or she, replacing the gendered pronouns with the collective they."
As for the new language and terms for "justice-involved persons," some local newspapers already found it funny. Like San Francisco Chronicle noticed, if some junkie with a criminal history broke into your car, you became now "a person who has come in contact with a returning resident who was involved with the justice system and who is currently under supervision with a history of substance use."