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The Western Virginia Regional Jail wants to help inmates get IDs so they can find work upon release.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Anything jails can do to help inmates avoid re-offending is good policy, for offenders and the public: If they do no more crime, they get no more time.
The state prison system is working toward that end with a Department of Corrections initiative this year aimed at providing every inmate nearing release with a state-issued ID. Without one, ex-cons would find it nearly impossible to get legitimate work.
The Western Virginia Regional Jail is cooperating with the DOC to give that assist to soon-to-be-released state prisoners being held at the facility in Roanoke County. Thus far, Superintendent Bobby Russell reports, jail employees help gather the needed documents, such as birth certificates, and the DOC provides the photos.
The regional jail is in line to provide the same help to inmates serving jail time for lesser offenses, Russell said. That’s encouraging news.
The Norfolk City Jail is the first, and thus far only, jail in the commonwealth to adopt the DOC policy as its own. A spokesman explained in a Virginian-Pilot news story that jail employees helped inmates within six months of release get documents, such as a birth certificate, needed to get a state ID.
Then the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles came to the jail last week to check the documents and photograph the inmates, the first of what are to be monthly visits to provide official IDs, which will be mailed to the jail and given to them upon release.
Yes, the inmates pay the $10 fee, if they have it. If not, it comes from the jail’s canteen fund.
Russell said in a brief phone interview that the Western Virginia Regional Jail is working on getting the DMV Connect outreach program here. Inmates can’t go to the DMV, but DMV employees can go to them. They bring laptop, signature card and camera, connect to the Internet and conduct a secure transaction.
Inmates are over their first hurdle after release.
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