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The Michigan Department of State (MDOS) has provided more than 5,000 state identification cards and driver's licenses to returning citizens since the start of its joint initiative with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). The program, which ensures newly paroled Michiganders receive a driver's license or state ID, has increased the number of these transactions by more than 10 times the amount conducted prior to the program.
"By providing identification to returning citizens, we are opening doors that enable them to re-enter the work force and their communities," said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. "Our partnership with MDOC provides a valuable resource to formerly incarcerated individuals, ensuring they have the credentials they need to succeed."
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MDOS and MDOC announced the joint initiative in June 2020 to assist returning citizens as they rejoin their communities by providing them with a driver's license or state ID upon their parole. The program was fully implemented following a successful pilot.
"Ensuring returning citizens have their vital documents upon release is an essential part of their successful return to society," MDOC Director Heidi E. Washington said. "We are pleased with the success of this program, and know that it is having a real and profound effect on these individuals as they embark on the next chapter in their lives."
Through the initiative, MDOC assists individuals designated for parole in obtaining required documents, paperwork, and photos and forwards the documents directly to MDOS to process either a driver's license or state ID. Once an individual is paroled, they are provided their license or ID, registered to vote unless they indicate they do not want to be, and given information on re-entering the workforce.
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After launching the program last year, the departments collaborated to increase the number of returning citizens served. While some parolees may refuse, or do not have the necessary personal information to process an ID, the collaboration has been successful, resulting in 95 percent of parolees in the month of October 2021 receiving an ID or driver's license. Both departments expect to maintain this rate moving forward.
More information on voting rights for returning citizens can be found on the MDOS website.
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