Philadelphia Scraps “Ex-Offender” Label In Favor of “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, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. An ordinance will be introduced to call them “returning citizens.” Mayor Michael Nutter said that the new term emphasizes reintegration, while ” ‘ex-offender’ carries with it a stigma which may increase the challenges these citizens face.”

Nutter issued an executive order making it city policy to use “returning citizen” on all written material from the city. The order renamed the Office of Re-integration Services for Ex-Offenders (RISE) to the Office of Re-integration Services. RISE director Bill Hart 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.

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