Reentry by someone from prison back into society is tough enough, but having no identification would make that venture even more difficult. That’s why the U.S. Probation Office for the Southern District of Ohio and the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Motor Vehicles have created a supervision ID card for inmates leaving federal prison. The ID serves as a legitimate form of identification to obtain a state of Ohio ID or driver’s license.
The Department of Justice urged districts nationwide to enhance the identification process as part of BOP reforms announced in November 2016, recognizing that possession of government-issued identification documents is critical to successful reentry. Without such documentation, men and women leaving correctional facilities face significant challenges securing employment and housing, registering for school, opening bank accounts and accessing other benefits, such as health care, that are critical to successful integration.
The initiative in the Southern District of Ohio, which launched last month, allows recently released eligible offenders to obtain an Ohio ID card, learner’s permit, driver’s license or commercial driver’s license. Eligible offenders include those who have been released from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons system, are citizens or legal residents of the United States and who reside in Ohio.
The Probation Office will provide the offender with a U.S. Offender Release Card, which contains the individual’s photograph, legal name, date of birth, social security number and an expiration date. That Card can then be exchanged for the official state ID at the BMV.
“I commend Chief U.S. Probation Officer John Dierna and his team for bringing to fruition a practical and tangible solution for inmates leaving our federal facilities and returning to the Southern District of Ohio,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman said. “Obtaining an ID seems simple enough, but for many of the men and women leaving federal prison, it can pose an enormous barrier to gaining employment and moving forward with productive and law-abiding lives. Removing this kind of barrier promotes public safety by improving the likelihood of successful reentry.”
The Daily Times contacted JoEllen Smith of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction about the state’s policy regarding release IDs and the Times received a link to the ODRC’s Release Preparation Policies, and Section VI reads:
“All eligible offenders shall have a new offender release card produced prior to the offender’s release from the institution. Where possible, the card shall be produced 14 – 30 calendar days prior to the scheduled release of the offender. The Cashier’s office staff shall place the offender release card in a file for safekeeping until the day of release. Each area shall be responsible for printing their own release lists from DOTS Portal. The record office shall no longer provide notification.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.