(Photo by Albert Hong)
Generocity is one of 15 news organizations participating in The Reentry Project, a solutions-oriented journalism initiative focusing on the challenges of prisoner reentry.
Philly’s Office of Reintegration Services for Ex-Offenders (RISE) ED Ceciley Bradford-Jones has been talking about moving the agency’s office to Center City since the beginning of 2017.
Because for the workforce development office tasked with helping returning citizens get back to their lives, she said at the time, its services needed to be part of the centralized services system that includes City Hall, probation, parole, etc.
Being so far removed from the rest of the action at 990 Spring Garden (after moving there from Center City three years prior) resulted in a drop in foot traffic, and thus, a drop in those served by the agency.
Now that the deed has been done, with RISE moving from its Spring Garden address to the first floor of 1425 Arch early last month, how does RISE plan to capitalize on the new location to service more people, more efficiently?
Pam Superville, manager of reintegration at RISE, pointed out that the immediate benefit is obviously the accessibility factor, something we’ve heard before can be a big issue for returning citizens who often have to walk needlessly long distances as soon as they get out of prison.
“On a 22-degree day, you don’t want to come all the way to 990 [Spring Garden],” she said.
That accessibility also benefits the many partner agencies and organizations that come by the office every week to offer varied reentry services, such as Career Wardrobe, Public Health Management Corporation and the Community College of Philadelphia.
Superville, who along with Bradford-Jones is part of the Reentry Coalition of Philadelphia, believes the issue of reentry isn’t a “cookie cutter” problem that involves a one-size-fits-all solution (which matches what Bradford-Jones told us about the need for the reentry community’s players to stick to what they each do well).
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“Every client coming in has to be treated individually because every one of them has a different need, a brokenness in a different place,” said Superville, a formerly incarcerated person herself.
She added that the Reentry Coalition has been discussing ways a major player like RISE, now with its new office and vision, could teach “cultural competency” to agencies that may not know how to interact with people who’ve been through quite a lot — because if you’re not committed to the herculean task of helping someone rebuild their lives, that returning citizen is also likely to take a half-hearted approach.-30-
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