October 24, 2013– Mayor Michael A. Nutter asked Councilman W. Wilson Goode, Jr. to introduce on behalf of the Administration an ordinance amending The Philadelphia Code by replacing the term “ex-offender” with the term “returning citizen”. Mayor Nutter also signed an Executive Order re-naming the Office of Re-integration Services for Ex-Offenders (R.I.S.E.) to simply, the Office of Re-integration Services (R.I.S.E.) in order to comply with the ordinance.
“Every year, thousands of citizens are released from federal, state and local correctional facilities and return to their families and friends in Philadelphia. Their successful re-integration into our communities is often hindered by challenges like a lack of education or job-training, limited opportunities for employment, and having a criminal record. These challenges contribute to high recidivism rates, which also mean decreased safety for our citizens and increased costs for the City for police and prison services,” said Mayor Nutter. “The City of Philadelphia has already taken steps to ease the transition of returning citizens, including Ban-the-Box legislation for employers operating in the City and expanding services offered at R.I.S.E. But, it is also important that we re-examine how we refer to these people. The commonly used term ‘ex-offender’ carries with it a stigma which may increase the challenges these citizens face, while the term “returning citizen” more appropriately focuses on their engagement in the process of reintegration. As a government, the City of Philadelphia must do what it can to help their transition.”
Under the ordinance and the Executive Order, R.I.S.E. will continue its mission to promote safer communities and reduce law enforcement costs by assisting returning citizens to be constructive individuals who contribute positively to their communities. R.I.S.E. partners with businesses, faith & community organizations, and job-training providers to offer job placement services, life skills training, and literacy education to returning citizens.
“This legislation is important in changing the general public’s perception of people who have served their time, paid their debt to society, and want to re-enter our City’s communities as hard-working, productive members,” said Councilman Goode. “I applaud Mayor Nutter, Deputy Mayor Gillison, and the men and women at the newly re-named Mayor’s Office of Re-Integration Services (R.I.S.E.) for their dedicated service to our city’s returning citizens, and for bringing attention to this important issue. It was truly my pleasure to sponsor this legislation, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Administration to serve this group.”
The Executive Order defines a ‘returning citizen’ as an individual who has recently been released from a federal, state or local correctional facility, or a person who, while not recently incarcerated, has a criminal record or history. Under the Executive Order, the policy of the City of Philadelphia is to use the term ‘returning citizen’ on any official or unofficial communication, document, or other written material to describe such persons.