Justice Department Language Guidance on Criminal Justice Terms

The official language guidance from the Justice Department instructs employees to change the way they refer to several criminal justice topics, including young people charged with crimes and people who are using illegal substances.

LANGUAGE GUIDANCE

LANGUAGE TO AVOID
System-involved orjustice-involved youth

LANGUAGE OPTIONS TO USE INSTEAD
Youth in the system (or be specific)
Offender or at-risk youth (as appropriate)

Smart on JuvenileJustice Initiative (program
name)

Rest of program title following colon
Reference generally as system improvement
work

Defending Childhood Initiative (program name)

Reference work generally as children exposed to
violence

Underserved youth

All youth

Reform (in the context ofjuvenile justice)

Improvement (or similar rewording)

Summit

Conference, meeting, etc.

Discussing the criminal and juvenile justice
system WITHOUT adding public safety aspect.

Example: Establish culturally speci?c, trauma-
informed juvenile justice systems and ensure
public safety.

Substance use disorder

Substance abuse issue (unless research/context
specifically calls for substance use disorder as in
JDTC Guidelines,

Referring to the Obama White House or AG
Holder initiatives.

Previous administration and former Attorney
General (do not use names)

Residential placement

?Out-of?home placement" or ?in-home
placement?

Overrepresentation of minorities. (in the juvenile
justice system)

Disproportionate minority contact
Minorities are disproportionally represented

Public issue; public concern

Public health issue; public health concern
Administration Priorities

Combatting gangs

Ensuring public safety

Supporting prosecutors

Updated 8/29/17

Reducing crime, particularly violent crime

Reducing drug use, particularly the opioid epidemic
Protecting and supporting law enforcement

Com batting victimization (especially with respect to human trafficking)