Someone who has just been released from prison faces numerous challenges. One state legislator thinks getting a state-issued ID shouldn’t be one of them.

People who have completed serving a sentence in Illinois are issued a temporary ID after release. To procure a permanent ID, however, they need to produce identifying papers like a Social Security card or birth certificate — a daunting task for many who’ve lived lawlessly.

State Rep. John Cabello, a Rockford-area Republican who also is a policeman, is sponsoring a bill that would give the formerly incarcerated a state identification card issued by the secretary of state’s office.

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Beth Johnson with Cabrini Green Legal Aid, a nonprofit group that provides support services for those involved in the criminal justice system, says returning citizens need identification to prove who they are and they may lack the documents or the finances to obtain one.

“If your life’s somewhere that led you to prison, you probably don’t have a file folder with all of your necessary documents,” Johnson said. “It makes it difficult to get jobs and even a home.”

Colette Payne is formerly incarcerated herself and now works as a community organizer with Cabrini. Those possessing very little are unlikely to have what’s needed for ID, she said.

“If my family couldn’t locate my birth certificate or Social Security card, I wouldn’t have been able to get my ID,” Payne said.


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