State Rep. pushes to ease access to driver licenses for inmates leaving incarceration

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Marilyn Stark, R-Bethany, is pushing for driver licenses to be restored for certain inmates preparing to leave incarceration.

Stark is the author of House Bill 1566, which directs the Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections (DOC) to provide inmates with state-issued IDs, REAL ID compliant IDs, or REAL ID compliant driver licenses upon their release.

“We’ve made tremendous progress in lowering our recidivism rate, but to keep that momentum going, we must equip people who’ve paid their debt to society with every possible tool to succeed upon reentry,” Stark said. “Whether through a legislative solution or another avenue, providing qualifying inmates with a REAL ID compliant license is a necessary step to help people who have served their time move on with their lives.”

Stark said the bill is part of the Restorative Workforce Initiative, a collection of bills passed in recent years that work together to address both recidivism and the employment gap by empowering individuals to find employment both before and immediately after leaving incarceration.

Stark is one of three Republican legislators supporting the Restorative Workforce Initiative. She is joined in the effort by Rep. Brian Hill, R-Mustang, and Rep. Nicole Miller, R-Edmond.

Hill, who worked with Stark to develop the 2021 Sarah Stitt Act, said the Restorative Workforce Initiative builds off legislation passed in recent years to lower incarceration and recidivism rates and grow the economy, restore families, rebuild lives.

“We know that work works,” Hill said. “Having a stable income is the largest indicator of success for someone leaving prison, but the unemployment rate for justice-involved Oklahomans is nearly five times the state average. The Restorative Workforce Initiative is comprised of common-sense solutions to help people who’ve turned their lives around and to spur economic growth simultaneously.”

HB1566 is assigned to the House Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee. The deadline to pass bills through committee is March 2.


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