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Senate Panel Passes Bill Aimed At Helping Florida's Ex-Inmates Get Free ID Cards

Florida Channel
Florida Smart Justice Alliance President and CEO Barney Bishop is backing the bill aimed at helping released inmates get ID Cards and birth certificates. This proposal is a much watered-down version of a "Smart Justice" reform bill that failed last year.

A group of Florida senators unanimously passed a bill Monday that aims to make life easier for ex-inmates upon their release from prison.

Upon their release from prison, Altamonte Springs Republican Senator David Simmons says it’s difficult for many inmates to get an ID card.  And, he says making it easier would lower recidivism. Under his bill, Florida-born inmates can get an ID card as well as a copy of their birth certificate upon their release.

“It also requires the Department of Corrections to assist inmates born outside the state of Florida with completing forms needed to apply for social security card, driver’s license, or state identification card. The bill amends the statute to require the Department of Health to waive all fees for an inmate to acquire a certified copy of his or her birth certificate through the new process created in the bill,” said Simmons.

His proposal also had the backing of the Florida Smart Justice Alliance President and CEO Barney Bishop.

“We can save tens of millions of dollars by helping these people because when you go to a place to work, they want to know where you live, and when you go get a place to live, they want to know where you work, and you can’t do either without a state-issued ID card. Plus, if you’re older like me, and they have prescriptions and they need a refill, they can’t get that done without an ID,” said Bishop.

The bill allows the Florida Department of Corrections to work with the state’s Health Department and Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to ensure every ex-inmate has an ID card and a copy of their birth certificate. The Senate Criminal Justice Committee staff analysis estimates that could cost the state up to more than half a million dollars a year. The committee passed the measure 6-0 Monday.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on twitter @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.