LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||15/AGO/2010 1:54 PM|
Help me out. Exactly what is a "detento"? Is he a "reu"?
In the USA, there are jails and there are prisons. People confuse them, speaking of them as if they are the same thing. They are not. People should get a dictionary and talk to someone in the know before writing magazine articles, movie scripts, etc. and using the terms interchangeably.
A jail in the USA is a correctional facility maintained by a city or county. (A county is somewhere between the Brazilian municipio and state. I am unaware of a Brazilian counterpart or equivalent to a USA county.) It is for people awaiting trial or transportation to prison, and for those who have been sentenced to one year or less in custody. Are there exceptions? Yes, but they are rare. A prison is a correctional facility maintained by a state or the federal government. They are for those sentenced to serve at least a year and a day in custody. (A crime punishable by 366 days or more and/or a fine of $10,000 is a felony. A crime punishable by 365 days or less and/or a fine of $9,999 or less is a misdemeanor.) Someone in jail or prison is an inmate, prisoner, etc. A "convict" is a prison inmate, not a jail inmate.
Other than "jailbird" (slang) or "former jail inmate", I can't think of a name or word to describe a former prisoner of a jail.
"Ex-con" and "ex-convict" are commonly used to describe former prison inmates.
The trouble with terms like "felon" and "offender" is that they do not refer to being an inmate, prisoner, etc. The terms refer to crimes people have committed, not to punishment. It is quite possible to be a felon without ever having been in prison. We think of "felons and "offenders" as having been convicted of a crime, but by strict definition, they refer to people who have committed criminal acts, not to convictions and subsequent punishments. Yes, we read and hear about "ex-felons" and "ex-offender". If a man is no longer a convict or inmate, he can be called an ex-convict. Doesn't it make sense that if someone has committed a felony, he will always be a felon? It makes perfect sense to me.
Don't bother sharing with me your Google search results, what someone has written on Wikipedia, etc. If you want to impress me, show me something written by someone who has spent time working in the criminal justice system and knows what he is talking about. We simply cannot rely on novels, movies, etc. to educate ourselves. Have you read Helter Skelter? It was written by the district attorney prosecuting the Manson Family. Even this highly educated and experienced man made some dumb mistakes in his best-seller about crime in California when talking about probation officers and parole agents. If he had had known about English Made in Brazil, his English would have been better and his book would have had the information right.
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