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January 12, 2024

Trone, Moore, Dean, Moran Introduce Legislation to Ensure Returning Citizens Receive Valid Government Identification


January 12, 2024

Trone, Moore, Dean, Moran Introduce Legislation to Ensure Returning Citizens Receive Valid Government Identification

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Representatives David Trone (D-MD), Barry Moore (R-AL), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), and Nathaniel Moran (R-TX) introduced a bipartisan bill to ensure all eligible individuals leave prison with a valid form of government identification. Right now, 40,000 people are released from federal prison every year, yet half leave custody without a valid government ID, and more than 75 percent don’t have a photo ID. This creates significant barriers to obtaining housing, accessing social services, opening a bank account, satisfying the I-9 form for employment, and even accessing many forms needed for health care coverage. These capabilities are vital to improving reentry outcomes and driving down recidivism.

Without access to these basic needs, recidivism rates increase and folks are forced to rely on illegal sources of income to get by. While the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is rolling out a program to issue a photo ID release card to exiting inmates, legislation is still needed to ensure that this ID card fulfills the identification requirements necessary to access federal benefits and allows the ID release card to be traded for an equivalent state ID. 

“The BOP ID Act is a commonsense solution to a problem that’s preventing returning citizens from successfully reentering society. If we truly want to lower our nation’s recidivism rate, we need to start giving folks the proper tools needed to find a job, housing, and health care,” said Rep. Trone, co-founder and co-chair of the Second Chance Task Force. “Having spoken to BOP Director Colette Peters about this very issue, I know that by solving the government ID barrier to reentry, we will open doors for thousands of individuals to start over and rebuild their lives.” 

“We need to give Americans being released from prison some basic tools to become functioning members of society, and a form of identification is a key item,” said Rep. Moore. “Without identification, it is almost impossible to get a job or find housing. I am proud to join Rep. Trone on this bipartisan legislation to reduce recidivism and help these Americans get back on track.”

“We as lawmakers have a responsibility to remove barriers to necessities like housing, employment, and healthcare for everyone – especially those eager for a fresh start – and the BOP Release Card ID Act of 2024 does just that,” said Rep. Dean. “Our legislation would ensure all exiting inmates have a photo ID that remains valid for 18 months and satisfies certain requirements to receive federal assistance and state IDs. I am grateful to Congressman Trone and Congressman Moore for their partnership, and I am encouraged to see a joint effort across the aisle to support those reentering society and reduce recidivism.”

“Every year, more than 40,000 people are released from federal prison, yet half leave custody without a valid government identification, leaving individuals with significant hurdles for their reintegration into society and often leading them back into a cycle of criminal activity,” said Rep. Moran. “This practical, common-sense legislation to alleviate obstacles for reentry will ultimately decrease the likelihood of repeat offenses among those reintegrating into the community.”

“The Bureau of Prisons ID Act would help eliminate an obstacle faced by many people as they return to society after prison: they don’t have proper ID. Under the bill, the bureau would provide federal ID cards to people as they leave incarceration, making it faster and easier for them to build a life and stay out of prison, and build a pathway to state identification. Research has consistently shown that access to housing, healthcare, and social services — all of which require ID — are vital in the first months after leaving prison,” said Ames Grawert, senior counsel in the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law.

“Second chances create opportunities for individuals to build their lives, improve their financial health, and also deliver significant results for employers and the economy,” said Nan Gibson, Executive Director, JPMorgan Chase PolicyCenter. “But for too many, the barriers to opportunity are still too high. Bipartisan common-sense legislation like the BOP ID Act is an important step in the right direction to help more individuals successfully access housing, education, and employment. Working across the aisle to advance these types of reforms will help individuals better transition back into communities and offer a real chance at greater economic opportunity and more equitable growth.“

The BOP ID Act of 2024 would:

  • Direct the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to issue an identification document—referred to as a “Release Card”—to all inmates, except those who are non-citizens, upon exiting a Bureau of Prisons facility;
  • Provide that the ID shall remain valid for a minimum of 18 months from the date of release; 
  • Direct the BOP to work with all states to establish a system by which the ID release card can be traded for equivalent state IDs;
  • Direct federal agencies to accept the ID release card as satisfying any requirement that a beneficiary prove their identity; and
  • Direct the DOJ to create guidance for states to issue release IDs from state penitentiaries.

Representatives Barry Moore (AL-02), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Kelly Armstrong (ND At-large District), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE At-large District), Dan Crenshaw (TX-02), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), John Rutherford (FL-05), Kweisi Mfume (MD-07), Don Bacon (NE-02), Jonathan Jackson (IL-01), and Tom McClintock (CA-04) are all cosponsors of the legislation. 

For bill text, click here.

For one-pager, click here

Congressman David Trone was elected to the House of Representatives in November 2018 to serve the 6th District of Maryland, which includes all or part of Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties. Trone serves on the Appropriations, Budget, and Joint Economic Committees. In Congress, Trone is fighting to make progress on issues that matter to Marylanders.

Follow Congressman Trone at @RepDavidTrone for updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.