Cory Booker and Elijah Cummings Intro Bill to Ease Barriers to Re-entry for Formerly Incarcerated
Every week, more than 10,000 prisoners are released from America’s state and federal prisons, equating to more than 650,000 ex-prisoners annually reintegrating into society -- a complex process for many of these individuals. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) are hoping to make that process a little easier, and the pair introduced legislation to ease some of the barriers. The bicameral New Pathways Act would provide more specific guidance for the Bureau of Prison to help individuals obtain federal identification documents upon the release from prison, such as a driver’s license, birth certificate, Social Security card, photo ID, or work authorization form -- things that may not be a big deal to most but can be huge obstacles to returning citizens. “One of those obstacles may seem insignificant – nothing more than a flimsy piece of plastic – but it is priceless currency in a world that revolves around having some form of a government-issued ID – it’s necessary to vote, open a bank account, rent an apartment, and obtain a credit card, among many other things,” Booker said. Recidivism rates are extremely high with approximately two-thirds of ex-prisoners being rearrested within three years of release. It’s clear that there’s not enough support to help ex-prisoners stay out of the correctional system. Booker and Cummings think this measure may help. “Photo IDs are essential in securing housing, obtaining jobs, accessing social services, and applying for educational opportunities,” said Cummings. “That is why I am proud that the bill Senator Booker and I introduced will ensure that the Bureau of Prisons obtains identification documents to assist reentering individuals in their pursuits to re-join their communities.” More here.