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First State lawmakers consider giving ex-inmates free state IDs

Legislation giving inmates leaving prison official identification cleared a state Senate committee Wednesday.

The bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington) would provide ex-prisoners a re-entry card allowing them to get a free state ID or birth certificate.

Sandy Spence with the Delaware League of Women Voters said former inmates face obstacles getting a job or housing without a valid identification card. She argues giving them official IDs will reduce recidivism.

“I believe the latest number I heard is it costs about $36,000 a year for one person to be in prison," she said. "So I think in the long run, we would save a lot of money.”

The program would be available to inmates who were born in Delaware and incarcerated for at least six months.

Delaware charges $40 for a drivers license and $25 for birth certificates. A state ID costs $20.

The state estimates if half of the eligible former inmates take advantage of the program, it would cost about $100,000 a year.

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