The Importance of Using Person-First Language for Individuals Who Have Experienced Incarceration

Friday, November 9, 2018
Cover image
Precious Bedell
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
Marvin So
Emory University Rollins School of Public Health
Diane Morse
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
Warren J. Ferguson, MD
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Stuart Kinner
University of Melbourne
Anne Spaulding
Emory University Rollins School of Public Health

In this invited commentary for Academic Medicine, the Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, criminal justice health experts including our own Warren Ferguson, discuss the potential benefits the use of person first language could have in reducing morbidity and mortality rates for the 2.2 million adults incarcerated in the United States today. The authors believe that using person first language while individuals are in prison could help improve the trust they feel in the health care system when they return to the outside community.

They offer suggested language and commentary on the power of humanizing labels in this article.