DMV Connect program preparing offenders for release with IDs

(Photo courtesy of Evanna Armour/WRIC)

STATE FARM, Va. (WRIC) — Twenty-six more offenders at Deep Meadow Correctional Center will have ID cards when they are released.

The DMV Connect program set up at the State Farm facility on Thursday. It’s a traveling outreach program that serves Virginians unable to make it to a DMV office.

The partnership between DMV and the Department of Corrections launched in 2012 at Deep Meadow. During the pilot, three ID cards were processed. Since then, they have processed ID cards for more than 23,000 offenders at 82 state, local and federal correctional facilities.

The governor stopped by to see it in action.

“Everybody deserves a second chance. People make mistakes in life,” said Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “But it is our responsibility, I believe, to give everybody an opportunity at that second chance.”

McAuliffe told the offenders an ID is essential for re-entry.

“It is very hard in society today to do anything without an identification card. You can’t get a job, you can’t really do anything,” he said. “So having that card before you leave is so important.”

Travis Via will be released in 11 days after serving nearly four years behind bars.

“Saves me a trip to DMV,” he said.

Via said he’s looking forward to having his card upon release.

“You can’t do anything without it,” he said.

Kearnard Bowling gets out in less than a month. He said he’s been preparing for release, and having his ID processed is one more thing checked off his list.

“I believe it’s very important to have your plans together before you go home,” said Bowling. “Without a plan, it’ll make things very hard for you.”

DMV Connect has successfully piloted remote driver’s license testing at two correctional facilities.

Recently, DMV Connect also piloted remote testing for the commercial driver’s license (CDL) knowledge exam, which is required to obtain a commercial driver’s license.

“Virginia is now officially the first state in the nation to offer CDL knowledge tests in correctional facilities,” said DMV Deputy Commissioner George Bishop.

The DMV Connect team has also brought the technology to military bases, nursing homes, homeless shelters and VA hospitals.