Outreach workers see IDs as central to preventing ex-inmates fro - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Outreach workers see IDs as central to preventing ex-inmates from ending up homeless

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Most of us take our IDs for granted. But without them, it's nearly impossible to hold down a job, apply for social services or seek other aid.

And getting an ID is sometimes no easy task if you don't have easy access to your Social Security card and birth certificate.

Outreach workers know that all too well, which is why they're urging the governor to sign a new law meant to help newly-released inmates get their IDs while still behind bars -- which could prevent some of them from ending up on the streets.

The measure would give inmates an opportunity to get their Social Security card, birth certificate and a state ID before they're released.

Prison officials say they already notify all inmates that there is assistance available to get those documents.

But officials at the state's largest homeless service provider don't believe it.

"Five of our clients today, none of them have actually been offered any type of assistance to obtain an ID prior to being released from OCCC," said Kimo Carvalho, IHS spokesman.

Carvalho and others said the lack of an ID makes it harder to former inmates to stay out of trouble.

Shelter client Clyde Wisocki said he was incarcerated for nine months after getting caught up in drugs during his time on the streets. 

"When you get incarcerated you get taken out of society. You no longer exist. When you come out, it's the same way. You have nothing," he said.

After finishing his sentence, Wisocki said, it took him months to get the documents he needed to get an ID, even with the help of a case worker.

Case worker Tana Alualu said former inmates can't even apply for a job without an ID.

And the process of doing that is sometimes no easy task.

You need a Social Security card and a birth certificate to apply for a $40 state ID.

But to get a Social Security card, applicants have to go to the federal building. Then, they have to track down their birth certificate.

The process can take months.

The governor has about a month to make a decision on the new measure, which would also require the state to track how many people are released without all of those documents.

If he signs the bill, it would go into effect in January.

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