The US Carceral System & Injustice

Vocabulary to consider

Language Is Political and Personal

All communities have preferred language to talk about their experiences and identities. 

When discussing the US legal and carceral system, the words we use to discuss people, actions, laws, and issues reflect different points of view.

Please consider using language considered respectful by the system-impacted community. 

Sample Texts

The ZO - linked above

The ZO - linked above

Suggested Resources

Voices of System Impacted People

This isn’t a problem that’s going to go away all on its own. The United States has the largest prison population in the world, and most of those prisoners will one day be released. I realized that formerly incarcerated people had no voice, and no one seemed willing to speak for us. As I built A New Way of Life, it sometimes felt as though a new underground railroad was taking shape. We, the people of the community, weren’t going to let each other fall. We would rescue each other, and deliver people to a lasting freedom.

--From Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to
Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women

(cited below)




Source citation: Burton, Susan, and Cari Lynn. Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women. The New Press, 2019.

Featured films & resources

Featured books & ebooks

Featured resource

Pen America

logo for Pen America Writing

NPR StoryCorps (Justice Project Playlist)

StoryCorps: Justice Project

StoryCorps is a national project to record and archive the personal stories that matter in people's lives. Linked below is a collection of stories that are a part of their Justice Project.


Below is an animated story, just an example of the stories you'll hear in this collection