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Crime, Law and Justice
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Republican Senators Challenge Decision To Stop Calling Prison Inmates 'Offenders'

Washington Legislature
Washington state Sen. Mike Padden chairs the Law and Justice Committee.

The decision to stop calling Washington prison inmates “offenders” is not sitting well with a group of Republican state senators. They’ve written a letter to Secretary of Corrections Dick Morgan challenging the policy change.

In a memo to prison staff earlier this month, Morgan wrote the word “offender” has a negative connotation that affects not just the inmates, but their families.

Sen. Mike Padden chairs the Law and Justice Committee. He thinks “offender” is an appropriate term to describe inmates and notes it’s used in several state statutes.

“The people that have been sentenced to our institutions have committed felonies, serious offenses. They are offenders,” Padden said. “And to try to pretend they’re something else I think denies the reality of why they're there.”

Padden said he met Monday with Secretary Morgan to discuss the issue.