Monday, October 28, 2013

In Philly 'ex-offenders' no more, 'returning citizens'

The hundreds of thousands of Philadelphians who have served time in prison will no longer be referred to as "ex-offenders" in official city language, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer. Instead, an ordinance will be introduced to call them "returning citizens."

In a statement, Mayor Nutter said that the new term emphasizes reintegration, while " 'ex-offender' carries with it a stigma which may increase the challenges these citizens face."

While the ordinance, to be introduced by Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr., awaits approval, the mayor has already issued an executive order making it city policy to use "returning citizen" on all written material from the city.

The order also renamed the Office of Re-integration Services for Ex-Offenders (RISE) to the Office of Re-integration Services. The acronym, however, will remain the same.

RISE executive director Bill Hart said he estimates the city is home to more than 200,000 "returning citizens," but that an exact number is difficult to pinpoint due to a high recidivism rate.

He hopes the new term will have a "cognitive effect" on those returning from prison.

A more positive label, he said, demonstrates that "you can be successful and make that reintegration in the world."

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