NuLeadership Policy Group
The Center for Law and Social Justice
1150 Carroll Street, Suite CP19Brooklyn, New York 11225
Tel: (718) 270-6288 ~ Fax: (718) 270-6190
An Open Letter to Our Friends
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
As you many of you may be aware, the NuLeadership Policy Group (NuLPG), a recently formed activist public policy think tank and community organizer is now headquartered at Medgar Evers College in the City University of New York. NuLPG was founded and is directed by people, like myself, who were formerly or are currently incarcerated. We conduct research and analysis, make recommendations for criminal justice policy reform and provide community education from the unique perspective of people who themselves have served time in prison.
One of our first initiatives is to respond to the negative public perception about our population as expressed in the language and concepts used to describe us. When we are not called mad dogs, animals, predators, offenders and other derogatory terms, we are referred to as inmates, convicts, prisoners and felons. All terms devoid of humanness which identify us as “things” rather than as people. While these terms have achieved a degree of acceptance, and are the “official” language of the media, law enforcement, the prison industrial complex and public policy agencies, they are no longer acceptable for us and we are asking people to stop using them.
In an effort to assist our transition from prison to our communities as responsible citizens and to create a more positive human image of ourselves, we are asking everyone to stop using these negative terms and to simply refer to us as PEOPLE. People currently or formerly incarcerated, people on parole, people recently released from prison, people in prison, people with criminal convictions, but PEOPLE.
NuLeadership Policy Group believes that if we can get progressive publications, organizations and individuals like you to refrain from using the old offensive language and simply refer to us as “people,” we will have achieved a significant step forward in our life giving struggle to be recognized as the human beings we are. We have made our mistakes, yes, but we have also paid or are paying our debts to society. We believe we have the right to be called by a name we choose, rather than one someone else decides to use. We think that by insisting on being called “people” we reaffirm our right to be recognized as human beings, not animals, inmates, prisoners or offenders.
Accordingly, please talk with your friends and colleagues about this initiative. If you agree with our approach encourage others to join us. Use it in your publications, web sites and literature. When you hear people using the negative language, gently and respectfully correct them and explain why such language is hurting us. Circulate this letter on your various list serves. If you disagree with this initiative, kindly write and tell us why at the above address or e-mail us at NuLPG@adaptnet.org. Perhaps we have overlooked something.
Please join us in making this campaign successful. With your help we can change public opinion, one person at a time. Thank you so much.
Dr. Divine Pryor