Cummings, Booker Introduce New Pathways Act

April 11, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (April 11, 2019) – This week, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), in recognition of Second Chance Month, introduced legislation to ease the barriers to re-entry for formerly incarcerated individuals.  The bicameral New Pathways Act provides more specific guidance for the Bureau of Prison to help individuals obtain federal identification documents upon release from prison, such as a driver’s license, birth certificate, Social Security card, photo ID or work authorization form.

Providing formerly incarcerated individuals with the resources needed to effectively reintegrate into society is essential in preventing recidivism.  One in three American adults currently have a criminal record.  Unfortunately, over two-thirds of formerly-incarcerated people are rearrested within three years.  Removing collateral consequences, including barriers to employment, education, and benefits, is one way to address this troubling trend.

“Upon release from federal prison, formerly incarcerated individuals face many obstacles from being able to successfully re-join their communities.  One of such obstacles is their lack of a photo ID and other important identification documents.  Photo IDs are essential in securing housing, obtaining jobs, accessing social services, and applying for educational opportunities,” Said Congressman Elijah E. Cummings.  “That is why I am proud that the bill Senator Booker and I introduced will ensure that the Bureau of Prisons obtains identification documents to assist reentering individuals in their pursuits to re-join their communities.”

“More than 600,000 individuals are released from prison every year, and many of them face enormous obstacles to reintegrating into life outside bars,” Senator Cory Booker said.  “One of those obstacles may seem insignificant – nothing more than a flimsy piece of plastic – but it is priceless currency in a world that revolves around having some form of a government-issued ID – it’s necessary to vote, open a bank account, rent an apartment, and obtain a credit card, among many other things.  Our bill is a small but important step in helping ease the pathway to reentry for formerly incarcerated individuals.”

Specifically, the New Pathways Act:

  • Provides Photo ID to inmates released from federal prison: The bill would require the Bureau of Prisons to provide a photo ID when an inmate is released from federal prison or community confinement.
  • Ensures inmates have the documents they need when released from federal prison: The bill also requires the Bureau to obtain identification documents for citizens, such as social security cards and certificates of naturalization, from federal and state agencies.  In addition, the Bureau provides forms and instructions to assist noncitizens in obtaining immigration documents.

The New Pathways Act has been endorsed by Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the Center for Law and Social Policy, JustLeadershipUSA, Campaign for Youth Justice, The Sentencing Project, the Interfaith Action for Human Rights, National Crittenton, and the Coalition for Juvenile Justice.

The bill furthers Congressman Cummings and Senator Booker’s efforts to reform the criminal justice system.  In February they were joined by Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA) and Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) in introducing the Fair Chance Act—bipartisan, bicameral legislation to give formerly incarcerated individuals a fairer chance at finding a job by prohibiting the federal government and federal contractors from asking about the criminal history of a job applicant prior to a conditional offer of employment.

Click here to read a section by section of the bill.

Click here for the bill text.