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State launches program to allow parolees to get IDs

Dwight Burdette

The Secretary of State and Department of Corrections this week announced the launch of a returning citizens initiative - putting state IDs in the hands of parolees.

State officials say previously only about 400-500 of state inmates were able to get IDs before leaving the prison system.

Chris Gautz is a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Corrections. He said there has long been a desire to increase access to IDs for returning citizens.

“Under this program, we’re going to be able to offer IDs to 6,000 to 8,000 prisoners,” he said. “A huge ramp up from what we did before.”

Gautz said IDs can be a huge barrier for returning to civilian life.

“All those things you need to get started you need an ID for. If you don’t have that it can be a real impediment to your success.”

Not all inmates will be able to receive driver’s licenses - anyone incarcerated for driving-related incidents will likely only be able to obtain a state ID.

The department of corrections will pay the Secretary of State’s office $100,000 annually for a full-time staff member to process inmate ID applications.

Parolees will also be registered to vote.