Testimony in Support of HB 2502 – Providing ID Upon Release from DOC

Date: January 31st, 2024
To: Representative Rudy Viet, Chairman, and Members of the House Committee on Corrections and Public Institutions
From: Gwen Smith, Criminal Justice Policy Manager, Empower Missouri
RE: Support for HB 2502

As the largest and oldest anti-poverty non-profit in our state, Empower Missouri is committed to improving the quality of life for all Missouri residents through advocacy. Since our inception, Empower Missouri has focused on the criminal justice system and its impacts. Our Community Justice Coalition consists of community advocates and organizations from across the state who work with those who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. Many coalition members are formerly incarcerated or have currently incarcerated loved ones, and all are connected by a vision for a future without mass incarceration.

We are providing testimony today in support of HB 2502, sponsored by Representative Oeherling, which would ensure that individuals leaving Missouri prisons have access to crucial documentation, as well as a host of other resources to help ensure successful reentry and employment outcomes. The bill outlines that the DOC will obtain the following for individuals preparing for release: a state ID, a certified copy of their birth certification, a Social Security card, a resume that includes any trades learned by the individual, a copy of their vocational training record, a copy of their work record, and documentation that they have completed a practice job interview. 

According to the most recent available data from the Department of Corrections, Missouri’s recidivism rate is 44%, meaning that 44% of individuals released from prison will end up returning to custody. Supporting positive employment outcomes is one way that has been proven effective to reduce recidivism. Studies from the National Resource Council report that up to half of formerly incarcerated individuals remain unemployed for as long as a year after their release. Incarceration contributes to lower hourly wages and reduced annual earnings. Formerly incarcerated individuals typically hold low-paying, insecure jobs and experience frequent periods of unemployment and high job turnover. Supporting employment outcomes through vocational training and interview preparation, in addition to ensuring that individuals have the documentation they need to hit the ground running upon release, will go a long way to ensuring that people leaving Missouri prisons find stable and sustainable employment.

Empower Missouri urges this committee to take action to pass HB 2502 into law. Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter. 

Leave a Reply