Vital document release to prevent Michigan recidivism

(95.3 MNC)
Most legally free Michiganders possess their vital records, but some people recently coming back to society after incarceration do not.
A package of bills awaits Senate approval to ensure the Michigan Department of Corrections and Secretary of State provide people returning to society with their birth certificate and driver’s license or state ID, and then work with the federal government to provide a Social Security card.
Chuck Warpehoski, project coordinator for the Michigan Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration, said people hoping for a fresh start in society after prison often cannot get a break.
“Often as part of somebody’s parole conditions, they’re told, ‘Hey, you’ve got to get your own apartment, you’ve got to get your own job,'” Warpehoski explained. “You can’t do that if you don’t have your birth certificate and state ID or driver’s license.”
Warpehoski added ensuring everyone comes home with vital documents from day one gives people a jump start on re-establishing themselves, staying out of trouble and successfully returning to society.
The Michigan Department of Corrections has made progress supplying vital documents, but advocates want to codify it into law. Warpehoski noted the success rate of giving people their documents for re-entry at the time of their parole or discharge is 98% to 99%, according to the corrections department’s records.
Warpehoski cautioned he is concerned because if there is a change in the department’s director or a change in priorities, the progress could go away. He noted the goal is not to try to create a new policy, but to lock in the good work the Michigan Department of Corrections and the Secretary of State have done.
“There are 30,000 people incarcerated in the Michigan Department of Corrections,” Warpehoski added. “Most of them are coming home. Most of them are coming back to their community. And when they do, what do we all want them to be able to get a job, to get an apartment, to stabilize, and to stay out of trouble, to be able to give back to society.”
Warpehoski suggested people reach out to their state senator about the issue.​

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