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Virginia Sheriffs’ Association
The Voice of Virginia’s Sheriffs & Deputies

A huge weight is being lifted from William Tyrone Goodson’s shoulders as he prepares for release from the Norfolk City Jail.    Goodson will walk out of lockup with an official Virginia Identification Card in hand, thanks to the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

DMV Connect is an initiative of Governor Bob McDonnell’s Prisoner Re-entry Support Programs and is designed to drive down recidivism rates by putting state-issued Identification Cards in the hands of newly released inmates.    In May, the Norfolk City Jail became the first jail in the Commonwealth to offer the re-entry partnership program.   DMV Connect is already available in Virginia’s prisons.

The cards are available to most inmates who are within six months of their release dates.    The Norfolk Sheriff’s Office identifies the individuals scheduled for release and begins collecting their personal documents, such as birth certificates, that are needed to produce the ID.  If family members are unable to provide the documents, the NSO’s Community Corrections division contacts vital records offices.

DMV brings portable equipment, including a laptop and camera, to the jail to produce the cards and charges inmates $10.00 each.   Fees for indigent inmates who can’t pay for their ID, will be paid from the jail’s canteen fund.

“Without ID, the hurdles are immense when it comes to confirming citizenship and identity, landing a job, opening bank accounts and returning to their neighborhoods,” according to Norfolk Sheriff Bob McCabe.

The Norfolk Sheriff’s Office has been an early participant in the governor’s prisoner re-entry programs and Sheriff McCabe also believes this latest effort will help curb recidivism.

In less than 75 minutes, the first group of 25 inmates was photographed and signed their names to signature pads.   DMV will be back at the jail monthly to produce another 25 cards which are assembled at a DMV central processing facility and mailed to the jail to be included in an inmate’s release packet.

William Goodson was excited to be getting his ID card.  “I think it’s good to have ID and because if something happens, people will know who you are.”

The jail’s other re-entry programs include classes in anger and stress management, how to find a job and a place to live, as well as rebuilding relationships with family members.