LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Recent parolees shared their struggles getting official identification at the Capitol Tuesday, as lawmakers discussed a bill that would ensure people who have just been released from prison are able to get a driver’s license or state ID.
Tony Gant is the director of Nation Outside and was released from prison in 2015, after serving 20 years. He said that after prison, he had to wait months to get a form of ID.
“I hit a lot of those closed doors,” said Gant. “Getting my state ID was one of those closed doors.”
Gant pointed out that when an individual can’t get a form of ID, he does not believe it is fair to expect people to be successful.
A bill package created by the Secretary of State and the Michigan Department of Corrections was presented Wednesday, called the Returning Citizens Initiative.
The goal is to help parolees get back on their feet, ensuring they have a state ID or a driver’s license.
“I think there is gonna be support on both sides for this bill,” said State Rep. Graham Filler. “When you get out, presumably you want a job. It’s really hard to get a job without a license we all know it, or a state ID Card. You wanna drive? It’s really hard to drive without a driver’s license.”
Gant created Nation Outside which aims to help people adjust to life on the outside. If this bill becomes a law, Gant said it will help more people return to society.
“It’s a good route to take and I think the state will save money if we start moving in that direction,” continued Gant.
Officials with the SOS say a similar ID program has helped more than 12,000 parolees since 2020.