Board of Supervisors Approves Supplying ID's for Jail Inmates - FOX 13 News

Board of Supervisors Approves Supplying ID's for Released Jail Inmates

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(FOX 11/ CNS) - The Board of Supervisors today approved a plan to provide birth certificates, state-issued identification cards and other vital records to recently released jail inmates, probationers and juveniles leaving Los Angeles County detention facilities.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said research shows recidivism rates are higher when ex-offenders lack identification required to get help with housing, food, job training and other key resources.

"Providing these vital records is fundamental," Ridley-Thomas told his colleagues. "If we don't do some of this, they will re-offend. The data is clear."

Without proof of identity, recently released offenders cannot obtain food stamps, job training or mental health care and some live in fear of deportation, despite their status as citizens or legal immigrants, dozens of community advocates told the board.  Inmates in supervised substance abuse programs while in jail are particularly at risk, according to Kim McGill of the Youth Justice Coalition.

With identification upon release, "less than 30 percent of them go back inside," McGill said. "People that are released with no IDs and no access to drug treatment, over 60 percent of them are re-arrested."

A task force of the Countywide Criminal Justice Coordination Committee --including sheriff's deputies, social workers, probation officers and public defenders -- has been working behind the scenes to develop a plan for implementation.   Probation staff have already been trained to do some of the work. The county will cover the cost of birth certificates for juvenile offenders and those coming out of county jails.

County staffers will work with the Department of Motor Vehicles to make getting state-issued IDs easier. 

Advocates applauded the board's decision.  "This is a common-sense solution," said Angela Chung of the Children's Defense Fund.


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