Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp just signed into law a bill that should help make it easier for people freed from prison to obtain identification cards and proof they completed training and programs while incarcerated.
When released from prison, people often face significant challenges in reintegrating into society. A lack of identification documents is a common obstacle that makes obtaining employment, housing, and other necessities difficult. Georgia Senate Bill 218 reduces these barriers, which promotes public safety by helping people stay on the right side of the law.
The bill allows the Georgia Department of Corrections (DOC) to coordinate with the Georgia Department of Driver Services to provide identification cards to incarcerated people without driver’s licenses. The DOC will also be required to provide individuals released from prison with documents about their program history while incarcerated, including that they:
- Completed training that was requested by the State Board of Pardons and Paroles;
- Completed programs recommended by the DOC;
- Earned state-approved high school equivalency diplomas and other educational degrees while incarcerated; and
- Worked in jobs in the institution, including detailing skills obtained through any job training.
Reason Foundation Government Affairs Associate David Morgan played an important role in highlighting the need for these reforms and facilitating dialogue among relevant stakeholders.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Michael Rhett (D–Marietta), commented, “When David approached me with the idea, I was immediately on board. It’s our responsibility as lawmakers to do all that we can to assist ex-offenders with becoming productive citizens after they’ve paid their debt to society. I am grateful that we had such overwhelming support, and that David brought this issue to my attention.”
S.B. 218 is a much-needed, commonsense piece of legislation that received unanimous support in the Georgia General Assembly. Providing people who have served their time and are being released with ID cards and documents related to the work and education they completed while incarcerated is a crucial step in ensuring their successful reentry into society. We applaud Gov. Kemp, Sen. Rhett, and the Georgia General Assembly for their unanimous support of this pragmatic legislation.