Zach Mccoyby Zachary McCoy

Zach has a Bachelor’s in English from Mount St. Joseph University and is a published poet. He currently works full-time and writes whenever he can.

Words have always been my life. I have studied with some of the best literary minds, thanks to Mount St. Joseph University. I am constantly seeking to improve, and consistently search for exact words, words I want to use. Working with Ohio Justice & Policy Center improved this skill.

My vocabulary when discussing law or related social issues has always been a stunted at best. More often than not, I’m at a loss when in conversation about law, or at least I used to be. At least I used to be.

Upon reviewing an article an attorney had commented on my word choice. He shocked me, saying I was incorrect in my word choicet. Now, I’ve studied English and communication for five years, so I jumped at his challenge.

“What do you mean it’s wrong?” I asked. His response would change the way I talk about criminal justice.

He pointed out I kept using the word “convict” when talking about the people OJPC serves. He said they are not convicts, but “returning citizens”. “Though convicted of a crime, they are people first and foremost and should not be defined by their past mistakes, but as who they have always been: people.”

That instance changed the way I speak and write. The truth about vocabulary is that it reflects not our education but the way we think. Changing how I talked about the issues and those affected by them not only helped improve my communication skill, it helped make me a better person. It changed the way I think.

One thought on “words matter: people, language, and justice”

  1. Hello Zachary,
    The great thing about your comment is the fact you understand we can always find room to learn. Words are very important to me too. I am still learning. Because I have taught adults in a college setting for 37 years, from all backgrounds and education levels, in the same classroom, I learned many years ago to be very careful about the words I used, and most importantly, to make sure what I was saying was correct. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.