Digitized ID eases re-entry for formerly incarcerated
To streamline the re-entry process for released inmates, the Maryland Re-Entry Passport program launched an online portal that stores digitized copies of personal documents.
In Maryland, when incarcerated individuals are released from a corrections facility, they are handed an envelope with their birth certificate, Social Security card and other government-issued ID. To ensure against loss or theft of those documents, staff at the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) also uploads personal documents of incarcerated individuals to an online portal for a more efficient and secure re-entry process.
The portal, an initiative of the departments’ Re-Entry Passport program, aims to “modernize a historically inefficient and paper-based process within DPSCS,” spokesperson Lt. Latoya Gray said in an email. “Re-Entry Passport creates greater flexibility and connectivity systemwide so that DPSCS staff can ensure that all incarcerated people have the documents they need.”
Released inmates will continue to get hard copies of their identification papers, but the online environment offers additional document storage if individuals lose their records—which is a common barrier to success after re-entry, she said.
Without proper forms of identification, individuals struggle to obtain housing, employment and government benefits, creating obstacles to a smooth transition back to society. Nineteen states have laws that support providing recently released individuals with some form of identification such as permanent or temporary ID cards or drivers’ licenses, according to a report from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Re-Entry Passport is an initiative under MD THINK, a statewide cloud-based shared services program for human services data and applications. Documents are stored within MD THINK’s enterprise content management system and follow MD THINK and the Maryland Department of Information Technology’s security frameworks, Gray said.
To ensure data privacy, authorized login credentials are required for staff to access the portal, and personal identifiable information is masked, she said. Released residents access the system through the myMDTHINK Consumer Portal once they obtain an email address and password so they can view and download their re-entry information.
“The security and ease of use afforded by Re-Entry Passport supports the re-entry efforts of our staff, as well as the released individuals themselves,” Gray said.
DPSCS will pilot the Re-Entry Passport program at two correctional facilities before expanding access to the entire Division of Correction, the Southern Maryland Chronicle reported.