It’s the softer side of doing hard time.
As the City Council weighs new legislation to guarantee more “humane” living accommodations for inmates — including calling them by their preferred pronouns — the Department of Correction has quietly revamped its rules for identifying inmates to make it more prisoner-friendly, The Post has leaned.
According to an order sent Tuesday by DOC Chief of Department Hazel Jennings to agency commanding officers, “all department employees” are now “prohibited to refer to persons in … custody using terms such as i.e. packages, bodies, etc.”
She called such monikers “unprofessional, demeaning and from this point prohibited.”
Now inmates must be called “individuals” or “persons” in all radio transmissions, phone conversations and when speaking to others while on duty.
“It’s BS that you can’t call them ‘perps’,” griped a DOC source after reviewing the order. “All part of [Mayor Bill] de Blasio’s plan to coddle criminals. Inmates get treated better than us [correction officers]. We used to call them bodies or packages.
“Now if you say on the radio you have five persons, does that mean inmates, visitors, construction workers, counselors, etc. It is confusing.”
Elias Husamudeen, president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, said the order “is redundant because correction officers already address inmates by their names.”
“What’s concerning to us is this apparent emphasis from the City Council on increasing congeniality, rather than addressing the jail violence, which even the administration reports has risen significantly over the past year,” Husamudeen added.
The order was handed out while the council and de Blasio revamp the city’s jail system, including shuttering scandal-scarred Rikers in favor of opening four smaller new jails in each borough but Staten Island.
The Council is set to vote on that plan Oct. 17.
Jenning’s order is addressed in a proposed “bill of rights” for local prisoners drafted by Manhattan Councilman Keith Powers, which was introduced earlier this month.
Besides being called by preferred names, inmates under this proposed law would also be guaranteed fancier digs behind bars, including giving them 24-hour “call buttons” to summon guards, kitchenettes and windows with sunny views — amid lots of ceramic and fabric.
DOC Deputy Commissioner Peter Thorne said in a statement that Jennings’ “notification reinforces existing policy and advances our goal of creating a culture of mutual respect.”
“It is part of our ongoing commitment to remaking our jails into national models for modern correctional practice,” Thorne added.