Returning Citizens:
Life Beyond Incarceration
In this docuseries, Georgetown Law Professor and MSNBC Contributor, Paul Butler, hosts half-hour episodes, each examining a different aspect of the post-prison experiences of everyday citizens trying to live peaceful and productive lives.
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Episode 101 |
With Rigor and With Love

Philadelphia’s mural arts program, pioneered by Jane Golden, offers hope and skills to the formerly incarcerated, featuring insightful interviews with program leader Dawan Williams.

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Episode 102 |

Explore the impact of incarceration on youth with expert Dr. Laurence Steinberg, alongside inspiring stories of redemption from advocates like Ghani, on a quest to break the cycle of punishment.

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Episode 103 |
The Simple Dignity of Work

Host Paul Butler delves into Jeff Brown’s grocery store initiative to provide job opportunities to ex-prisoners, aiming to uplift communities and restore dignity to returning citizens.

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Episode 104 |
On Our Own

Entrepreneurs like Darrell Alston, Maleek Jackson, and Mike Carter defy odds and stigma to launch successful businesses after prison, with insights from Dr. Tom Duffin’s business class for ex-inmates.

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Episode 105 |
Running the Traps

Former District Attorney R. Seth Williams shares his journey from incarceration to community advocacy, discussing the challenges faced by ex-convicts seeking redemption and trust in society.

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Episode 106 |
Never Going Back

The empowering work of Susan Burton and Tonie Willis  provides housing and healing to formerly incarcerated women; they share tales of resilience, hope and the transformative power of community.


Official Trailer | Season 1
Returning Citizens: Life Beyond Incarceration

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Dad’s Remorse Inspires Neighborhood Art & Healing | Returning Citizens S1 E1 

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Advocate Kempis “Ghani” Songster Channels Shame into Redemption | Returning Citizens  S1 E2

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Stigma Frustrates Returning Citizens Ready to Work | Returning Citizens S1 E3 

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Chef Mike Carter Goes from Prison Pizza to Philly Culinary Pioneer | Returning Citizens S1 E4

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Ex-Philly DA R. Seth Williams Reflects on His Own Incarceration | Returning Citizens S1 E5 

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A New Way of Life’s Susan Burton Creates a Women’s Community to Heal | Returning Citizens S1 E6 


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WHYY, the Philadelphia region’s leading public media provider, serving southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and all of Delaware for nearly 70 years. WHYY’s mission is to engage audiences, expand perspectives and empower communities through learning, truthful reporting, healthy dialogue and diverse voices. The station’s roster for public media includes Fresh Air, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine; the children’s arts education series Albie’s Elevator and The Infinite Art Hunt. For more info, visit


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United Way

of Greater Philadelphia & Southern New Jersey on a mission to end poverty and expand opportunity for all.

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Increases philanthropic investment in the community, fostering the economic, civic and social vitality of Greater Philadelphia.

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Invests in people and programs that protect, improve and enrich the life experiences of residents of the Philadelphia.

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Episode Resources

Episode 101 – “With Rigor and With Love”
Learn more about: Mural Arts Philadelphia

Episode 102  – “Testimony”
Learn more about: Youth Sentencing and Reentry Project
Pennsylvania Juvenile Life Without Parole Reentry Navigator 

Episode 103 – “The Simple Dignity of Work”
Learn more about: Uplift Solutions Workforce Solutions Program

Episode 104  – “On Our Own”
Learn more about: Free Mind Entrepreneur Network

Episode 105 – “Running the Traps”
Learn more about Credible Messengers: Philadelphia Anti-Drug Anti-Violence Network (PAAN)

Episode 106 – “Never Going Back”
Learn more about: A New Way of Life

Brought to You By

Executive Producers: Al Roker, Brian O’Reilly, and Tracie Brennan
Purple Sage Productions
Writers: Brian O’Reilly, Paul Butler
Host: Paul Butler
American Public Television
Presented by: WHYY

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