Michigan ‘Returning Citizens Initiative’

 

The Michigan Department of State (MDOS) and the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) announced a joint initiative today to help returning citizens reintegrate into their communities by providing them with a driver’s license or state ID upon their parole and ensuring they understand their voting rights have been restored. A pilot of the program is already underway and will be fully launched later this summer.

“For formerly incarcerated individuals, obtaining ID is one of the biggest obstacles they face, and it’s also the first hurdle they have to cross before they can do anything else,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “This partnership removes that obstacle and helps returning citizens start off on the right track to reintegrating into their communities.”

MDOC has sought such a partnership for years, and Secretary Benson made it a MDOS priority when she took office in 2019. Through the initiative, MDOC will obtain required documents, paperwork and photos for individuals designated for parole and will send that info directly to MDOS, where either a driver’s license or state ID will be processed.

“This initiative is an important step that builds on the years of work the MDOC has done to help returning citizens have their vital documents upon release,” said MDOC Director Heidi Washington. “We know that providing identification after exiting the criminal justice system will play a huge role in producing positive outcomes for parolees and the community at large, and we’re proud to be partnering on this effort.”

Once someone has been paroled, they will be provided their driver’s license or ID and registered to vote unless they choose not to be, along with a workforce development packet that includes information outlining the restoration of their voting rights.

“This initiative is the latest in our continued effort to position Michiganders who have gone through the criminal justice system for success upon their release,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “Proactive programs, like this, will restore returning citizens with the rights that they are guaranteed under the law and provide lifelong opportunity after parole.”

 

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