Unethical Government Euphemism Of The Month: “Justice-Involved Individuals”

A "justice-involved individual"

A “justice-involved individual”

At what point did the Obama Administration become immune to recognizing the ridiculous?

In its ongoing effort to make criminals and felons a Democratic voting bloc, the Obama Administration has rechristened them “justice-involved individuals.” Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason was the designated messenger for this official effort to make criminals respectable by creative terminology.  In The Washington Post, she  explained that “many of the formerly incarcerated men, women, and young people I talk with say that no punishment is harsher than being permanently branded a ‘felon’ or ‘offender.’”

Don’t break the law, then. It’s always unpleasant being called what you have allowed yourself to become, and having to avoid that fate is an important element of deterrence.

I heard about this and—I swear—I thought it was a joke. How addled by rainbows and unicorns does a mind have to be to hear a proposed euphemism like this and not react by pointing, laughing, and firing?

To begin with, it’s an inept and ambiguous euphemism that doesn’t effectively  distinguish what it is supposed to describe. I’m  lawyer; I’m a justice-involved individual. Judges, juries and police officers are justice-involved individuals. Criminals, in contrast, are justice-adverse individuals. Criminals and felons are clear words and concepts. “Justice-involved individuals,” in contrast, hides the truth. That’s what cover-phrases like that are supposed to do. They make deception and counter-factual policy-making easier.

Why does the administration, Democrats, Obama, social justice warriors, wackos—who IS responsible for this?—want to make criminals seem like innocent bystanders in their own criminal activities? Here’s is section from a DOE publication that is part of the roll-out of this latest Obama foray into Orwellian Newspeak:

“Today, an estimated 70 million Americans have been involved with the criminal justice system. Data show plainly that people of color are more likely to come in contact with the justice system due, in part, to punitive school disciplinary policies that disproportionately impact certain student groups and racial profiling. There is also growing recognition that successful reintegration back into our society for justice-involved individuals benefits those individuals, their families, and our communities. Research also shows that education can be a powerful pathway for justice-involved individuals to transition out of prison back into the classroom or the workforce, and cuts the likelihood of returning to prison within three years by over 40 percent.”

Wait, what does “involved with the justice system” mean here? It sounds so mysterious and benign, as if the “involvement” isn’t their doing, or at least, not do to any fault by  those “of color,’ who somehow become thieves, muggers, drug peddlers and killers because they get more detention for being disruptive in class? How does that work? There are some missing steps there. Apparently, people of non-color have no excuse at all for becoming involved in the justice system.

Here is a policy paper advocating education to be written in a way that promotes disinformation. Are we talking about criminals here? If so, say so. Misleading people by using deceptive terms is the opposite of education.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), appropriately mocking the new, nice way of describing felons, noted what is especially sinister about this effort in linguistic brain-washing, saying in a speech,

“It reflects the dangerous mindset that criminals are victims, that the justice system somehow happened to them. They didn’t commit a crime. They became involved in the justice system.”

That mindset is a progressive theory cornerstone of long-standing. At the beginning of the 20th Century, Clarence Darrow argued that criminals were victims of a cruel legal system that punished them for bad genes, upbringing, and environment. It’s a compassionate theory not without factual basis, but society has seen over and over again that criminals have to be held accountable or crime will flourish. Accountability includes public disapproval and the “harsh” penalty of disadvantageous but accurate labeling. We are witnessing the latest outbreak of this certified bad idea that progressives historically  refuse to accept as one that doesn’t work despite all of its promise. The 7 stage cycle should be familiar by now…

Stage 1: Calls for a reduction in accountability and reduced penalties for anti-social conduct and disrespect for the property, rights and lives of others, these calls eventually leading to…

Stage 2: A pullback in law enforcement, prison sentences and even school discipline, in favor of policies that, like Darrow, regard anti-social citizens as victims [In West Side Story (1957), the cynical juvenile delinquents sing (with the words of Stephen Sondheim)  “Officer Krupke, we’re down on our knees, for no one wants a fellow with a social disease!”] resulting in…

Stage 3: The  deterioration of safety, order and the quality of life for law-abiding citizens, accompanied by…

Stage 4: Tougher law enforcement policies, resulting in…

Stage 5: Societal benefits through the reduction in crime, followed by…

Stage 6: High profile aw enforcement excesses and misconduct as well as prisoner abuse, resulting in…

Stage 7: Progressive complaints about wrongful prosecution and convictions, hardships for the justly imprisoned, imperfections in the system and over-zealous law enforcement, and..

Stage 1:  Back to the beginning!

Why don’t we learn? One reason is that the cycle takes decades to play out. Another is that ideologues refuse to learn; that’s part of what makes them ideologues.  (See: Sanders, Bernie) When reality conflicts with cant, the response of ideologues is often to try to alter perceptions of reality so the cant will seem less irrational.

Calling criminals “justice involved individuals” is just the latest example.

12 thoughts on “Unethical Government Euphemism Of The Month: “Justice-Involved Individuals”

  1. My theory on a lot of this wacky social justice stuff, particularly among the intellectual and governmental elite is the intractable problem of the poor, bereft underclass in America. Lot of “people of color” have flourished since the beginning of the war on poverty in the ‘sixties. See eg., Obama, Barack and Michelle, the last two Attorneys General, etc., etc. But the bereft, mostly “of color” underclass continues to fester unabated. Nothing seems to be working. It’s driving people crazy. I think there’s possibly even a fair amount of survivor’s guilt. In any event, the intellectual and governmental elite have decided the solution is to entirely recast the situation in a new light, thereby creating the opportunity to make this intractable problem simply go away by redefining it out of existence. How do you reduce the crime rate? Re-define crime! Problem solved! Reduce student misbehavior in schools? Ignore it. Say it’s problem with the schools, not the students! Problem solved!

    It’s really pernicious.

  2. I think the catchy Baretta theme was popular at the right time when I was a kid. ‘Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time.’ Being put in detention a lot doesn’t force you to participate in felonies. If we start treating criminals as victims, that totally dismisses THEIR victims.

    • Come on Marie. Clearly it’s time for those who are justice involved as victims to check their privilege. You’re clearly a bigot.

  3. “Justice-Involved individuals” doesn’t appear in the article. Did they alter it to the following?

    “This new policy statement replaces unnecessarily disparaging labels with terms like ‘person who committed a crime’ and ‘individual who was incarcerated…’

  4. ““Today, an estimated 70 million Americans have been involved with the criminal justice system. Data show plainly that people of color are more likely to come in contact with the justice system due, in part, to punitive school disciplinary policies that disproportionately impact certain student groups and racial profiling.”

    I know this was put out by the DOE, which is why they focus on school discipline policies, but still…I find this to be jaw dropingly insulting, as a black person. STOP MAKING EXCUSES for black people, Obama Administration! Stop insulting me, by so lowering the expectations for black people, that the MUCH LARGER reason that blacks “come into contact” with law enforcement is ignored, swept under the rug, and omitted. (this clip sums up my point pretty succinctly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbOtyWTRZ_g)

    The black mindset, in too many families justifies, rationalizes, ignores, glorifies, celebrates, black criminality. In many too many families, black pathology is much more to blame. And every time we’re told “it’s not your fault, it’s the mean old white school administrators/police officers/business owners/etc’s fault, it makes the rationalizing that much easier.

    Good grief, I want to be treated like a regular person, not like a china doll; as someone able to discern right from wrong, who is wholly responsible for my decision making, and possessing the ability to overcome the normal run-of-the-mill slights, grievances, and speed bumps that everyone faces in life, and still flourish.

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