Illinois prison inmates to get ID cards upon release

Illinois prison inmates to get ID cards upon release

Inmates should have fewer troubles returning to their lives thanks to a new program intended to hand them an ID as they leave Illinois prisons.

People getting out of prison in Illinois should have one less challenge to their return to society through a program to ensure they have proper identification.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced Nov. 3 that individuals released from prison would walk out with a state identification card, making it easier for them to find a job, housing and other life essentials.

The program is meant to streamline the documentation process after release, which often turns into a bureaucratic runaround. Maria Garza was released in June from Logan Correctional Center and knows too well.

“Obtaining these documents after release can take weeks of running back and forth from agency to agency. It becomes a disheartening and hopeless experience for many,” Garza said.

White and the Illinois Department of Corrections implemented a pilot ID program in December 2020. It was expanded in April to 18 IDOC facilities and by next April is expected to reach 27 IDOC facilities.

As of October, IDOC has processed 346 state ID cards. Illinois prisons house 27,323 inmates.

“The State ID Program for Returning Residents gives people who have served their time in prison a necessary tool as they reenter their communities,” White said. “A state ID card is essential to transition back into society.”

To get a card, applicants cooperate with the IDOC to obtain vital documents. IDOC then transmits the applicant’s documentation, photo and signature to the Secretary of State’s office.

If all requirements are met, the state ID is sent to the IDOC and the inmate gets a card upon release. By law, applicants aren’t charged for obtaining an ID card.

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