Wisconsin jail inmates to be referred to as 'residents' in effort to humanize incarcerated

Dane County inmates to be treated with 'dignity, respect and humanity,' sheriff says
MADISON, Wis. -- A county jail in Wisconsin's capital will stop calling people "inmates" and start referring to them as "residents."

"How one views themselves matters," Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barett said.

Barett said the shift from "inmate" to "resident" is a policy change sheriffs around the country are already doing.

"This proactive approach to our criminal justice reform is going to allow us to move towards a 21st century policing mindset in which we treat everyone within our community with dignity, respect and humanity," he said.

Barett said it's part of an evolving set of policies designed to humanize and respect the jail population.

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"Changing the name of inmate to resident gives them a sense of belonging," Dane County Supervisor Sheila Stubbs said.

Stubbs, who is also a state representative, said this is a shift she supports dating back to her own time as a parole officer, CNN reported.

"When we give them a place of belonging and we call them residents instead of inmate, or call them resident instead of offender, because they may have offended one person but it doesn't mean they have offended everyone," Stubbs said.

Language is important to the new sheriff, whose office is located in Madison, Wisconsin.

For example, the Dane County Sheriff's website was updated to read "the largest peace officer agency in Dane County," a change from "the largest law enforcement organization in Dane County."

The changes come just before Barett's 100th day on the job.