Voices Unbarred Used Language Defined

Terms Related to Incarceration

  • THE SYSTEM- refers to the criminal justice system. 

  • INCARCERATION-the state of being confined in a jail or prison.

  • REENTRY-the transition of formerly incarcerated people from prison to society. This process can include several steps from finding housing, to finding employment, to mentally acclimating to being released, to working through probation.  

  • “INSIDE”-this term is used to refer to one’s experience on the inside of prison or jail. 

  • SOLITARY CONFINEMENT-the separation of an incarcerated person usually into a smaller cell as punishment for certain behavior. This practice is widely disapproved of for its inhumane conditions. 

Social/Criminal Justice Concepts

  • RACIAL JUSTICE-the systematic equality of people based on race. 

  • ECONOMIC JUSTICE-the systematic equality of financial means to survive and the opportunity to obtain wealth. 

  • PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX-the state of the prison system in the United States as profit-driven and controlled in-part by private companies.  

  • MASS INCARCERATION-the state of the United States criminal justice system as the country with the highest incarcerated population in the world. 

  • “FIT THE DESCRIPTION”-a phrase referring to the disproportionate targeting of black men by the police due to their perceived tendency to “fit the description” of suspect descriptions. 

Theatre Terms

  • THEATRE OF THE OPPRESSED-a theatrical method founded by Augusto Boal, learn more here.

  • FORUM THEATRE-a theatrical practice created by Augusto Boal meant to allow for the processing of a societal issue through improvisation and theatrical work.

Voices Unbarred Specific Terms

  • "PEOPLE FIRST" LANGUAGE-language that emphasizes the humanity in people by stating “person” first and abandoning the harmful stereotypes that simple labels such as “felon” or “criminals” can bare. 

  • COMMUNITY ADVOCATES/RETURNED CITIZENS/RETURNING CITIZENS-people who are formerly incarcerated and are Voices Unbarred participants.

  • At VU, we tend to use "people first language", but it is important to remember that every person is different and what someone is comfortable being called varies from person to person.