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The Returning Citizen

What is a "returning citizen"?

1)  Someone who just came back to earth from space (see, e.g., the movie "Gravity").
2)  Someone who just came back to the USA from his junior year abroad.
3)  Someone who just came back from crossing the ocean in a canoe. 

Sorry, you all got it wrong.  The answer is none of the above.
The answer is provided by the official policy of the City of Brotherly Love.

This is the story, and, no, I am not making this up:

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, the mayor's office announced Thursday. 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."

Our opponents have discovered from painful experience that they cannot sell their agenda by telling the straightforward truth, so an alternative has to be created. Sometimes, as in this instance, the alternative is not just a different narrative, but a whole different language.  Still, one has to concede that the creativity of these people is mind-boggling.

Hat tip and kudos to long-time reader, an expert in federal criminal law and probation, mjs.


The real beef, it seems to me, is the torture of the English language. The beguiling descriptor will be used to hide the predations of these "returning citizens."

Of course, the game is given away in the article--they don't know how many because of recidivism.

Once again, we are told we must change a term to another one that is less precise because of a stigma that is thought to be attached to the prior one.

But it never works. Inevitably the same stigma attaches to the new term, and then we will be told we must discard that one for yet another. How many times have we seen this cycle?

BTW, what will Mayor Nutter call a released felon who is an alien but not deportable?

"BTW, what will Mayor Nutter call a released felon who is an alien but not deportable?"

A Returning Oppressed Victim of Nativist Meanness.

My first professional position was as a probation officer in the early 70's. We were required to address our charges as "clients". It didn't work then and it won't work now.

Recidivism is high because few "returning citizens' were raised with the ability to delay gratification. The street life beckons.

This reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Mr. Burns referred to a nuclear plant meltdown as a "unrequested fission surplus".

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