Rep. Takano and Rep. Evans Reintroduce Bill to Ensure People Released From Prison Can Obtain Proper State ID Cards

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Penn.), reintroduced the Restoring Access Through Identification Act to ensure people who are released from prison are able to obtain proper state ID cards by requiring the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to cover the costs associated with obtaining identification cards. Covering the cost of obtaining a state-issued ID prior to release helps remove some of the barriers people face to reintegrating back into the community.

“Ensuring that people who are being released from prison have access to a state identification card gives them an essential tool they need for a successful re-entry into the community,” said Rep. Mark Takano. “Without an ID, it can be nearly impossible to secure housing, apply for a job, cash a check, or access public benefits to get back on your feet – that’s why the solutions proposed in this legislation matter. Commitment to reducing recidivism requires removing barriers to re-entry and giving people a fair shot at rebuilding their lives.” 
“Everyone has an interest in seeing that returning citizens succeed instead of falling into recidivism. While the city of Philadelphia has worked to fix this problem for people released from its jails, we need to address this problem nationwide. If we ensure that people released from prison are able to obtain proper state ID cards, it will make a huge difference – in crimes prevented, in tax dollars saved, in lives changed for the better,” said Rep. Dwight Evans. 
Under current law, the Bureau of Prisons is required to help people in prison obtain identification documents prior to their release, but individuals must cover the costs associated with obtaining an official state ID. However, having limited access to funds creates an unnecessary barrier to obtaining IDs for incarcerated individuals. Research shows that the time immediately after release is critical to successful re-entry and preventing recidivism. Without an official state ID, people are unable to access life-sustaining essentials including housing, employment, and public benefits, which often require applicants to show proof of identity when applying. 
The Restoring Access Through Identification Act strengthens the current requirements for the Bureau of Prisons to assist people with obtaining IDs prior to their release and mandates that the Bureau of Prisons cover the cost. This is crucial for a successful re-entry into the community. 
If BOP is unable to obtain an ID for an individual prior to release, this bill requires them to provide a written statement to the individual explaining what steps they took to obtain the ID and why they were unable to, as well as any documents they were able to obtain. Currently, BOP is not required to issue a report on the number of individuals released without an ID and why an ID was not issued. This legislation will also establish an annual reporting requirement to improve transparency about effectiveness of pre-release ID programs and any remaining barriers to issuing IDs. 

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