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Booker, Cummings Introduce Bill to Ease Barriers to Re-entry for Formerly Incarcerated

New Pathways Act will help individuals being released from prison obtain ID documents

April 10, 2019
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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) introduced legislation to ease the barriers to re-entry for formerly incarcerated individuals. The bicameral New Pathways Act provides more specific guidance for the Bureau of Prison to help individuals obtain federal identification documents upon release from prison, such as a driver's license, birth certificate, Social Security card, photo ID, or work authorization form.

"More than 600,000 individuals are released from prison every year, and many of them face enormous obstacles to reintegrating into life outside bars," Booker said. "One of those obstacles may seem insignificant -- nothing more than a flimsy piece of plastic -- but it is priceless currency in a world that revolves around having some form of a government-issued ID -- it's necessary to vote, open a bank account, rent an apartment, and obtain a credit card, among many other things. Our bill is a small but important step in helping ease the pathway to reentry for formerly incarcerated individuals."

"Upon release from federal prison, formerly incarcerated individuals face many obstacles from being able to successfully re-join their communities. One of such obstacles is their lack of a photo ID and other important identification documents. Photo IDs are essential in securing housing, obtaining jobs, accessing social services, and applying for educational opportunities," Congressman Cummings said. "That is why I am proud that the bill Senator Booker and I introduced will ensure that the Bureau of Prisons obtains identification documents to assist reentering individuals in their pursuits to re-join their communities."

The New Pathways Act has been endorsed by Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the Center for Law and Social Policy, Justice Action Network, JustLeadershipUSA, Campaign for Youth Justice, The Sentencing Project, the Interfaith Action for Human Rights, and National Crittenton, and the Coalition for Juvenile Justice.

Provisions from the New Pathways Act were included in a sweeping criminal justice package Senator Booker released earlier this year, the Next Step Act.

Background on Booker's criminal justice record:

Driven by his experience living and working in Newark and serving on its city council and as its mayor, Booker has made reforming our broken criminal justice system a key legislative priority during his time in the Senate. Over the past five years, Booker has introduced numerous criminal justice reform proposals, including: the Marijuana Justice Act, the Fair Chance Act, the CARERS Act, the MERCY Act, the Next Step Act, and the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act.

He was also a key architect of the most sweeping overhaul of the criminal justice system in decades, the First Step Act, which was signed into law on December 21. In particular, Booker was instrumental in adding key sentencing provisions to the package after opposing the House-passed version of the First Step Act first released in May 2018.

Booker also successfully fought to include in the final bill provisions that: effectively eliminate the solitary confinement of juveniles in federal supervision; effectively ban the shackling of pregnant women; require incarcerated individuals be placed within 500 miles of the nearest family member; and mandate that the Bureau of Prisons provide tampons and pads to all women behind bars free of charge.