More jail parolees are receiving driver's licenses due to new state program

A new program has increased the number of recent parolees getting a driver's license or state ID 10-fold according to the Secretary of State's Office. It says that last month 95 percent of parolees got an ID or driver’s license.

More than 5,000 state ID cards and driver’s licenses have been issued to people coming out of jail or prison.

"What we’ve seen is, there’s been immediate recognition of how important these resources are and how what has hindered them in the past is just a lack of connection to government resources to get a job and become part of society," said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

The result is a joint program with the Michigan Department of Corrections and the Michigan Department of State.

"While this initiative removes the obstacle of obtaining an ID, it helps returning citizens get off on the right track," Benson said. "We also do have protections in place to ensure that people are ready for the responsibility of driving or any of the responsibilities that come with these provisions prior to receiving them."

The Michigan Department of State and Michigan Department of Corrections announced the joint initiative in June 2020, and now it’s running full swing. MDOC helps parolees get the documents, paperwork, and photos they need and forwards them directly to MDOS.

FOX 2: "Michigan's recidivism rates are at all-time lows and has dropped to 26.7 percent - do you credit programs like this for having kept returning citizens out of jail after they have left?"

"Certainly, that is what all the data suggests and why this program is so important to us," Benson said. "Once an individual obtains an ID, they have often overcome the biggest obstacle to becoming reintegrated into their community and society with a well-paying job and all the rest."

Once someone is paroled, they get their license or ID, are registered to vote unless they say they don’t want to be, and are given information on how to get a job.