Language matters. The success of our advocacy efforts will largely depend on how we talk about our values and the harm caused by dehumanizing systems of pre-crime preventative detention.
The documents below offer a primer to improve your messaging around the criminal legal system and the human lives directly impacted by laws designed to permanently marginalize and other.
As a movement, we need to stop repeating demonizing, unconstructive language perpetuated by the carceral system to label and control persons living behind the walls and persons living on the registry.  For example, there is no such thing as a “sex offender.”
Read the links below to begin your advocacy training in narrative development, strategic communication, and the power of naming things.


  1. Center for Community Change (CCC) | Framework Guidance from Anat Shenker-Osorio
    1. Messaging This Moment (2017)
    2. Liberating Language: Discourse on Incarceration and Barriers to Employment
      1. Overview / Executive Summary (3 pages)
      2. Full Report by ASO communications (29 pages)
  2. Opportunity Agenda | Communications Tool Kit
  3. What to Call People Held Under Pre-Crime Preventative Detention Schemes
    1.  Critical reflections on labeling as an ethical issue in the field of psychology
      1. Gwenda M. Willis (2018) “Why call someone by what we don’t want them to be? The ethics of labeling in forensic/correctional psychology,” Psychology, Crime & Law, 24:7, 727-743, DOI: 10.1080/1068316X.2017.1421640
      2. Gwenda M. Willis & Elizabeth Letourneau. guest editorial: “Promoting Accurate and Respectful Language to Describe Individuals and Groups,” 30:5 Sexual Abuse 480-483 (2018)
      3. Michael C Seto, editor in chief, “Sexual Abuse’s New Person First Guidelines,” 30:5 Sexual Abuse 479 (2018)
  4. Just Future Project Recommendations for Descriptive Language (Forthcoming)

Comments are closed.