Daily Activities Require an ID

 

Showing a government-issued identification card (ID) to prove who you are is commonplace. Many daily activities require you to have one – opening a bank account, paperwork for a job or housing, getting on a plane.

Most do not think much about producing an ID to achieve an end goal. We automatically take it from a wallet or pocket to complete a task.

But what happens when you cannot get an ID? How do you get a job? How do you open a bank account to fill your pocket with a little cash? Unfortunately, you can’t!

You might think that obtaining a state ID is easy for everyone. All you need to do is go down to the DMV. Unfortunately, however, not all get theirs without difficulty.

A Story of Difficulty

 

To illustrate, I’ll tell you a story. I received a call in the late afternoon of early November. The caller said he had been released from Lemon Creek Correctional Center (LCCC) and needed help getting an ID. As the Coalition Coordinator for the Juneau Reentry Coalition, calls like this come in. I was happy to help this individual.

During the phone call, I asked if he had his Department of Corrections (DOC) Inmate Release Identification Form. He did. This document informs the DMV that the holder was recently released and is a known individual to the State of Alaska.

I picked up the caller, and we raced off to DMV before they closed. We waited in line, and once at the DMV window, the clerk could not issue an ID. Although he had the DOC form, this was insufficient, and he needed a birth certificate too. Strike one.

A Juneau Empire Photo

Again, a month later, the individual called me to ask for help getting an ID. The birth certificate was in hand this time. Together we went to the DMV. The clerk informed us that proof of address is needed to get the ID. Verbally stating he was living at the local emergency shelter (lack of money, remember) is insufficient. Strike two.

Running to the emergency shelter, we requested a document “proving” his mailing address. Staff willingly helped the cause and produced a letter on their stationary. Back at DMV a third time, the stars finally lined up: my reentry friend got his ID. It took an entire month for him to establish a solid reentry footing.

Solutions

 

Returning citizens need the necessary documentation to get an ID BEFORE being released from prison.

Two bills have been introduced in the Alaska Legislature to address the now-existing ID gap, House Bill 53 and Senate Bill 119. These bills, introduced by Representative Andrew Gray and Senator Robert Myers, respectively, will require DOC and DMV to work together to ensure that men and women leaving prison will have the necessary documentation, in the form of a DOC-issued temporary ID, that will be accepted by the DMV, leading to all eligible applicants receiving an official State ID.

Individuals returning to our communities after incarceration need an ID at release to increase their reentry success. Waiting a month to start life anew after prison is not helpful to the individual or our communities.

Please consider writing your Representative and Senator to ask them to support HB 53 and SB 119. Go to www.akleg.gov, and scroll down to WHO REPRESENTS ME to learn who your state elected officials are.