Reentry ID: Helping Rehabilitated Citizens Regain Their Government Issued Identification

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Given that the United States has the largest prison population in the world, more than 650,000 individuals are released from prison every year, according to the United States Department of Justice cite{DOJ}. In order for these newly rehabilitated members of society to reintegrate into their communities, they need housing, a job, and maybe the ability to drive. All three of these activities require the possession of some form of government issued identification, which many recently released inmates do not possess, or in the case of a driver's license, may have expired. This issue was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic when a significant increase in releases occurred for low-level or non-violent offenders. This was done to slow the spread of the virus within the United States' prison system, but the abrupt release of inmates caused logistical issues regarding reintegration into society. Although inmates may be released along with their prison ID card and release papers, many states do not allow the use of these documents to easily procure state issued identification that allows them to become a productive member of society again. Receiving an ID is even more difficult because government agencies are severely understaffed due to chronic budget cuts and more recently the pandemic, making it much harder for an individual to walk into a Department of Motored Vehicles (DMV) office and be guided through this process; hence, many released inmates may need to apply for identification through the web. Thus, the recently released inmates may be once again pushed to the margins of society if they do not possess the technology or knowledge to effectively navigate the internet. Furthermore, bureaucratic websites are sometimes prohibitively complicated, especially for a person that may have been in prison since before smartphones, or even email addresses, were a mainstream consumer technology. For this reason, the criminal advocacy group textit{cut50} approached Santa Clara University's Paper Prisons Initiative team to assist in developing a web application to make the procurement of government issued ID's accessible to recently released inmates.


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