Advocates of ending life without parole (LWOP) for juvenile criminals use many euphemisms and manipulative terms. For example, they refer to these criminals as “children” to associate them with childhood traits such as innocence and vulnerability– traits that do not apply to criminals whose crimes warrant LWOP. Advocates of juvenile offenders also use propaganda pictures of young elementary school-age children, even though most juveniles who get LWOP are 16 or 17.
One of the ways advocates of juvenile murderers use language to manipulate is by calling the murderers “justice-involved children” or “justice-involved youth.” Justice, meaning justice system. Though juvenile offenders may be involved in the justice system, it is inaccurate and offensive to call them “justice-involved youth.”
First, though murderers may be involved in the justice system due to their choices, they are not involved in justice. There’s a difference between justice and the justice system. Justice is the maintenance or administration of what is fair and right. The justice system is a system that addresses and responds to crimes and tries to seek justice.
Murder is an injustice. It is legally recognized as the greatest injustice there is. When one commits murder they are not involved in justice–just the opposite, they are involved in injustice, and the worst kind of injustice possible. Murderers are the opposite of justice-involved people. Calling murderers “justice-involved” is an Orwellian abuse of language. It is very insensitive to victims. Not only does it diminish the crimes and the impact on the victims, it also makes it sound like the murderer was involved in justice.
The term “justice-involved” also diminishes the crimes by implying that the criminals simply got “involved” with the justice system. They didn’t actually do anything to get involved in the system. They were just swept up by the system. This takes away the criminals’ agency. Many people who aren’t violent criminals are “justice-involved” or “justice system-involved.” Those who work in the justice system, such as prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, paralegals, and victim advocates. Also, victims who, unlike the murderers, did not choose to get involved in the justice system, but were unwillingly thrust into it by criminals’ selfish choices. No victim chooses to go to endless court hearings and listen to details of the crime and relive the worst experiences of their lives.
Portraying murderers as justice-involved children who simply got involved with the system is deeply offensive to the victims whose lives were destroyed by or taken by these criminals. When you commit a murder you are a murderer. When you commit a rape you are a rapist. There is no denying that. No amount of propaganda or euphemisms will change that. And to use a term that implies that murderers and rapists are involved in justice is just shameful. No one should use this kind of blatant propaganda to push an agenda. Advocates of juvenile offenders, please stop.