HB 551: Provisional driver’s license when ex-offenders leave prison

House Bill 551, sponsored by Rep. Nick Bain, seeks to provide a provisional driver’s license to formerly incarcerated individuals.

In a 2018 report, the Prison Policy Initiative showed that pre-and-post-release employment services are crucial factors in the successful reintegration of reentering citizens as the unemployment rate is the highest within the first two years of release. One of the largest barriers to full and successful integration is the challenge of attaining a driver’s license due to some state and local policies allowing for the suspension of license due to unpaid fines and fees.

Without a license, formerly incarcerated individuals may be unable to gain and keep employment, make scheduled appointments with probation officers, and even attend school. During such a crucial time frame, this lack of a major necessity can increase the chances of an individual recidivating or being subject to revocation.

This bill would provide reentering citizens with a six month provisional, class R, driver’s license so that they may be able to properly reintegrate into society by going to work or school, making all scheduled appearances in adherence with supervision requirements, pick up a child from school, and attend religious services.

If the individual adheres to rules and regulations under this provision, they will be eligible to receive a regular driver’s license after completing the standard procedures. This bill also seeks to ensure that, upon release, reentering citizens are provided with transportation from the correctional facility, decent clothing, and any monies accumulated while incarcerated.

If made law, the “Empowering Reentry through Licensing Act” will serve as a building block of successful transition back into the community and encouragement for individuals ready and willing to be productive and contributing members of society.

Empower Mississippi supports this legislation.

This has been referred to Judiciary, Division B. You can read HB 551 here.