Each week when about 10,000 people are released from state and federal prisons around the country, their successful reintegration into civilian life may depend on how quickly they can get valid government-issued photo identification. It can be a major hurdle, and the process to get an ID has become even more cumbersome in some communities during the pandemic.

When people are incarcerated, especially for long periods of time, the government ID they had when entering prison — like a driver’s license — may no longer be valid when they are released. Yet this small piece of plastic is needed for many of life’s basic necessities like housing, employment, medical care, banking, and, for those who need it, government benefit programs like food stamps.


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