The Indiana Department of Correction will release more than 18,000 offenders in 2010. Each of those offenders will face unique challenges as they prepare to return to their communities. However, one challenge that is not unique to any offender is the need for proper state identification. The idea of obtaining proper identification seems simple, but it is quite complex for individuals who may have never had the proper documentation necessary to obtain an ID. Indiana, under the guidance of Gov. Mitch Daniels, tackled this issue of identification as a shared responsibility between state agencies.
In 2004, the department was chosen as one of the original Transition from Prison to Community Initiative (TPCI) states, as outlined by the National Institute of Corrections. Under the leadership of Commissioner Edwin G. Buss, the department has been able to maintain an active TPCI Steering Committee that is comprised of numerous state agencies. Through the Steering Committee, many partnerships have been formed to assist offenders returning to Hoosier communities. The partnership that the department forged with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) has been one of the most rewarding and beneficial to offenders as they prepare for reentry. This partnership enables all offenders to obtain a valid state-issued identification card prior to their release. BMV had been up to the challenge of assisting all of the citizens in Indiana in obtaining valid identification, and they were more than willing to assist a population that sometimes goes unnoticed.
The department and BMV both recognized the need to serve those inmates released from incarceration and help them get past the roadblocks they faced without proper identification. Without a valid state ID card upon their release to the community, inmates faced many challenges surrounding employment, housing, obtaining benefits (such as Medicaid and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), and simply complying with the law and the need for proper identification. Therefore, in 2005, both agencies entered into their first Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This first MOU outlined a unique process through which the department would house three separate limited license branches in facilities around the state. These three branches would have the ability to produce a state ID card if the proper documentation was provided to releasing inmates. The service provided was in line with the service any citizen of Indiana would receive if they walked into a license branch around the state. The three limited branches were housed at the Westville Correctional Facility, the Plainfield Correctional Facility and the Rockville Correctional Facility.
Through the MOU, department staff were trained by BMV staff to operate the limited branches. The department staffers were trained on the System Tracking and Record Support (STARS) network and how to input data into the system and...