Head of corrections says inmates need help getting ID's

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada's corrections leader advocated on Tuesday for helping offenders get photo identification when they are released from custody so that they can access community services and stay out of prison.

James Dzurenda, director of the Nevada department of corrections, told a panel of lawmakers that some offenders cannot readily access birth certificates that can confirm their identity, which is needed for the state-issued ID card.

Proposed legislation would allow the agency to issue photo identification cards to offenders leaving prison, even if officials have not verified the person's full legal name and age using documents that would be required for identification at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

IDs issued to inmates as they are released would clearly state whether they are verified or not, according to the measure.

"That may be a controversial issue coming up," he said of the non-verified identifications. "But I have to get (some way) to keep these guys successful."

Some offenders are born in another country and cannot readily access their birth certificates, he said. Others simply don't know where they were born and would not know where to look for a birth certificate, he said.

Dzurenda also said some offenders will never tell officials if they have a birth certificate.

In some cases, it's a challenge to verify the true identity of an inmate and state law requires the agency to confiscate any identification they cannot verify, Dzurenda told lawmakers. The agency, he said, will not be able to verify the identities of some inmates when they leave prison.

"That means I'm letting a large number of offenders into our community with zero identification at all," he said. But without identification, former inmates cannot access social services, like addiction treatment programs, and are more likely to wind back up in prison.

"They're going to victimize us over and over again just because of this identity crisis," he said.

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