Identity Theft

A missing id is often a ticket back to the pen.

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FOR NEW PAROLEES hoping to stay out of prison for good, scoring public assistance is crucial. But few consider this obstacle: “You can’t get ID in this society anymore if you don’t have ID,” says Amy Blank, a researcher at Rutgers University. “If you want a birth certificate, you need a driver’s license. If you want a driver’s license, you have to have a birth certificate and a Social Security card. And to get a Social Security card, you have to have a driver’s license. It’s this crazy cycle.”

While studying a Philadelphia program that helped mentally ill ex-inmates transition back into the community, Blank found that virtually none of the 60 ex-cons she followed had IDs—the cards were either ditched during arrest or simply lost in the system. As a result, they had to wait weeks, sometimes months, for welfare checks, food stamps, and Medicaid benefits as they were bounced between government offices—a “brutalizing process” mentally ill parolees would be hard-pressed to negotiate alone, Blank says.

It’s not getting easier: In May, provisions of the Real ID Act set stricter documentation requirements for state-issued IDs, and Medicaid enrollees must now prove identity and citizenship. Prison authorities could create IDs for ex-offenders, Blank says, but some are wary since inmates can be booked under false identities. As a result, “these people are going back to using drugs, living on the street, engaging in prostitution—crimes that are about their survival—because it just took too long.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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