[Ads-l] Convict

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jun 14 05:31:02 UTC 2023

Dan Goncharoff wrote:
> Has "convict" shifted its meaning to mean simply someone convicted of a
> crime at some time in the past?

Here is a statement from 1889 which used the word "convicts". I think
the intended meaning was "convicts and ex-convicts".

Date: April 17, 1889
Newspaper: The Abbeville Press And Banner
Newspaper Location: Abbeville, South Carolina
Article: Curious Facts
Quote Page 2, Column 7
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
Convicts cannot vote unless they have been restored to citizenship by a pardon.
[End excerpt]

This 1904 citation suggested that a paroled individual was still a convict.

Date: November 17, 1904
Newspaper: The Better Way
Newspaper Location: Minneapolis, Kansas
Article: The Best Kansas News
Quote Page 2, Column 3
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
Paroled Convicts Cannot Vote.
Attorney General Coleman decided that inmates of the penitentiary and
reformatory out on parole cannot vote.
[End excerpt]

The title of this 1910 citation was "Convicts Cannot Vote". Yet, the
body of the article described a person who had completed a term in

Date: September 21, 1910
Newspaper: Buffalo Evening News
Newspaper Location: Buffalo, New York
Article: Everybody's Column
Quote Page 13, Column 1
Database: Newspapers.com


[Begin excerpt]
Convicts Cannot Vote.
Editor Evening News:
If a man 20 years old is arrested for grand larceny, is convicted and
serves three months In the penitentiary, can he vote when he becomes

No. The law distinctly states that a person who has been "convicted of
a felony" can neither register nor vote unless he has been pardoned
and restored to citizenship.
[End excerpt]

Definitions of convict (noun)

[Begin Google Definition from Oxford Languages]
convict noun
a person found guilty of a criminal offense and serving a sentence of
"two escaped convicts kidnapped them at gunpoint"
[End Google Definition from Oxford Languages]

[Begin OED excerpt]
convict, n.1
1. One convicted in a judicial investigation of a punishable offence. archaic.
2. spec. A condemned criminal serving a sentence of penal servitude.
3. A person proved to be wrong. Obsolete.
[End OED excerpt]

[Begin Merriam-Webster excerpt]
convict noun
1 a person convicted of and under sentence for a crime
2 a person serving a usually long prison sentence
[End Merriam-Webster excerpt]


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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