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Raoul: help ex-offenders get state IDs

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How often do you show someone your ID? Although most of us take it for granted, legal identification is an non-negotiable prerequisite for everything from getting a job to renting an apartment to opening a bank account – and it’s one thing people often don’t have when they leave prison and start a new life beyond bars.

Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) wants to change that with legislation that passed the Senate without opposition last spring but still needs the approval of the House. He predicts the measure, which would ensure that anyone released from a state prison or juvenile justice facility leaves with a valid state ID, is a simple solution that could make a big difference.

“We know individuals are less likely reoffend if they find housing, employment and a stable life in the community – and having a state-issued ID is key,” said Raoul, a co-sponsor of the bipartisan proposal. “Not everything we need to do to drive down recidivism is as straightforward as this legislation, but it’s one step we should take immediately to aid in the successful re-entry of those who have paid their debts to society.”

Raoul, Gov. Rauner and Representative Mary Flowers (D-Chicago 31st), one of the measure’s House sponsors, held a press conference this week to call for a vote in the House on the legislation. The three are also involved with the Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform, which studies opportunities for improving criminal justice in Illinois and reducing the state’s prison population. Helping ex-offenders get state IDs upon their release is one of a number of recommendations the bipartisan group has already forwarded to the General Assembly.