U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch is scheduled Monday to introduce a set of prison reforms aimed at helping former inmates obtain the identification they need to fully reintegrate into society. The announcement, which is timed for the first day of the Justice Department’s National Reentry Week, asks governors and the mayor of Washington to allow the roughly 41,000 federal prisoners released each year to use their prison ID cards and release documents to secure state identification, Time reported.
Normally, people seeking to obtain state IDs need primary identification documents such as birth certificates or Social Security cards. But not everyone has these documents available, and released inmates often don’t have the money to purchase copies, which would make it nearly impossible to get a state ID. Without IDs, former prisoners have less access to jobs, housing and bank cards, which can be necessary for successful re-entry into society.
“The long-term impact of a criminal record prevents many people from obtaining employment, housing, higher education and credit — and these barriers affect returning individuals even if they have turned their lives around and are unlikely to reoffend,” Lynch said in a policy paper titled “Roadmap to Reentry.”
The attorney general is expected to announce her plan Monday in Philadelphia and is sending out letters to the nation’s governors asking them to carry out her plan, the Associated Press reported.
At the beginning of National Reentry Week, the Justice Department is also directing the Federal Bureau of Prisons to create individual re-entry plans for every inmate that will include substance abuse, criminal history and education level, according to the AP. The agency will be reviewing its job, education and skills training programs and its halfway houses to make sure inmates’ needs are being met.
These new initiatives come just days after Virginia’s governor restored the voting rights of more than 200,000 former prisoners in that state.