July 25, 2019
On March 9, 2019, the West Virginia Legislature passed a bill authorizing the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation to issue a temporary identification card to eligible inmates during the week before release from incarceration. This identification card is valid for 90 days and has the same force and effect as a standard identification card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The card shall be accepted by the DMV as sufficient proof of identity, age, and residency of a person applying for an identification card or driver’s license. The new law went into effect on June 7, 2019.
This new law eliminates a substantial barrier to reentry for people who have served their sentences and are released. Many people’s driver’s licenses or identification cards expire while they are incarcerated, or they otherwise do not have any official form of identification. Not having official identification is an impediment to finding housing, applying for jobs, or even cashing a check. This law and the new expungement law are chipping away at the substantial barriers to reentry faced by people with a conviction history. After all, it is good for all of society when a person who has paid his debt is able to establish a new life of stability and meaning, never to return to the criminal justice pipeline.