York County partnering with PennDOT to get IDs for departing prisoners

David Weissman
York Dispatch
York County Prison Warden Clair Doll speaks during a Prison Board Meeting at York County Prison in Springettsbury Township, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

York County will be partnering with the state Department of Transportation to help ensure those leaving York County Prison have proper identification.

County commissioners recently finalized the agreement with PennDOT to become the first county correctional facility to offer this service.

President Commissioner Susan Byrnes said the idea came up about a year and half ago during a roundtable discussion as part of a coalition on prisoner re-entry.

Byrnes said PennDOT was receptive to the agreement once she got in touch with them.

April Billet-Barclay, the county's director of Probation Services, said her staff sees a lot of instances of prisoners leaving jail without any ID, which can make transitioning back into society very difficult.

"Getting an ID can be labor intensive and cost money, which a lot of people exiting prison don't have," Billet-Barclay said. "And they need an ID to get a job and housing."

She said her re-entry unit is excited about the new program, which will offer released inmates a state ID, driver's license or photo camera card.

York County President Commissioner Susan Byrnes

The state Department of Corrections has had a similar agreement with PennDOT for several years, according to corrections spokeswoman Amy Worden.

The issue came into focus, she wrote in a statement, after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling required resentencing of more than 500 "juvenile lifers."

"Many ... had never obtained identification to begin with, not even a birth certificate, and may not have had living family members to help either find existing IDs or work through the process on the outside," Worden wrote.

The department also has an agreement with the Social Security Administration to assist inmates in obtaining Social Security cards, she added.

York County's agreement will aid prisoners whose identity has already been established within PennDOT's systems, though inmates without an established identity will need to visit a driver's license center once they're released, according to the agreement.

Warden Clair Doll said the costs of the program will be paid through the Inmate Welfare Fund, which accumulates money through prisoners' spending on commissary items.

Other counties have expressed an interest in formulating a similar agreement with PennDOT, Doll said.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.