House passes Kinkead prison reform bill

Legislation would ensure essential documents for formerly incarcerated people

HARRISBURG, March 27 – The PA House of Representatives today passed legislation introduced by state Rep. Emily Kinkead that would require the state Department of Corrections to provide photo ID, work permits and other documents to people transitioning out of incarceration as part of the reentry process.

“A small piece of plastic stands between formerly incarcerated individuals and basic needs like housing, employment, medical care banking, and so much more that many of us take for granted,” said Kinkead, D-Allegheny. “People can get hopeless pretty quickly if they are unable to establish some level of stability and IDs are crucial to achieving that stability.”

Kinkead said the bill would require the PA departments of Corrections, Health, and Transportation to coordinate to provide people transitioning from incarceration in state prisons with a birth certificate, Social Security card, and a photo ID or driver’s license upon release.

“If we are going to be serious about ensuring that those who leave incarceration do not reoffend, ensuring that they have state identification and the documents necessary to contribute to society is essential. These simple paper documents have the ability to keep people on the straight and narrow and, therefore, keep our communities safe by reducing crime.”

The House passed H.B. 1601 by a vote of 102-99, and the bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.