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Michigan program will register former inmates to vote after being released from prison

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Posted at 10:26 AM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 10:26:58-04

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Michigan Department of State and Michigan Department of Corrections have started a pilot program that will register former inmates to vote and get them a driver's license as part of an effort to reintegrate them into communities.

According to the state department, the pilot program is underway and will be fully launched this summer.

“For formerly incarcerated individuals, obtaining ID is one of the biggest obstacles they face, and it’s also the first hurdle they have to cross before they can do anything else,” Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a release. “This partnership removes that obstacle and helps returning citizens start off on the right track to reintegrating into their communities.”

The corrections department has sought a partnership for years, the state department said, and Benson made it a priority when she took office.

According to the state department, the MDOC will obtain required documents, paperwork and photos for people designated for parole, and will send it to the MDOS where a driver's license or state ID will be processed.

“This initiative is an important step that builds on the years of work the MDOC has done to help returning citizens have their vital documents upon release,” MDOC Director Heidi Washington said. “We know that providing identification after exiting the criminal justice system will play a huge role in producing positive outcomes for parolees and the community at large, and we’re proud to be partnering on this effort.”

Once someone has been paroled, they will be provided their driver's license or ID and be registered to vote, unless they choose not to be. They will also get a workforce development packet that includes information about the restoration of their voting rights.

Once someone has been paroled, they will be provided their driver’s license or ID and registered to vote unless they choose not to be, along with a workforce development packet that includes information outlining the restoration of their voting rights.

“This initiative is the latest in our continued effort to position Michiganders who have gone through the criminal justice system for success upon their release,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II added in a release. “Proactive programs, like this, will restore returning citizens with the rights that they are guaranteed under the law and provide lifelong opportunity after parole.”