Liberation Identification

A movement to implement a statewide program providing state-issued photo identification to all people leaving incarceration in Kentucky. #LiberationIdentification


Liberation Identification - A Key to Reentry

This mini-documentary illuminates the barriers Kentuckians face when leaving incarceration without the most basic tool needed for success—a photo ID.

The 12-minute film reveals the broad-reaching consequences of this challenge—which leaves returning residents without access to housing, employment, nutrition assistance, healthcare, mental health services, and more—and defines the solution Kentucky needs now.

Video Series

Jami Collins, Louisville Metro Public Health & Wellness Peer Support Specialist
“You have to have your ID to start with. You can’t get a job without it. You can ‘t do this. So if you don’t have those things, you’re going to turn to something else because you have to live.”

Chad Lee Church, formerly incarcerated at Warren County Regional Jail
“Most people get out of here with nothing. They have nothing, and they’ll go right back in to that lifestyle. It’s everything to get out of here with a new start, and it all starts with an ID.”

Paul Gronowski, SoKY Reentry Council
“IDs play a paramount role to the success rate of the state and the success rate of that individual…The return on that investment is a win, win, win.”

Kara English, currently incarcerated advocate at Warren County Regional Jail
“I’ve been coming in and out of jail for a long time, and this time, I’m really ready to break that cycle.”

Stephen Harmon, Warren County Jailer
““If we can get state legislators to look at the importance of a state ID program and reentry efforts as a whole, then everybody can benefit, and you’ll see a positive impact on the amount of money being spent and also the amount of change in those offenders’ lives.”

Brandi Duvall, Warren Co. Circuit Court Clerk
“IDs are not expensive, and they don’t cost a fraction of what it costs to house an inmate.”

Lt. Doug Miles, Warren County Regional Jail
“In 72 hours you really need to get your healthcare set up, you need to find transportation, you need to have a food source, and if you don’t have that identification and it takes a month to get it, that 72 hours just went out the window.”

Beth Davisson, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
“The end game of recovery or coming out of the criminal justice system should not just be rehabilitation; it should be a meaningful return to work.”

Jolie Scott, Advocate, formerly incarcerated Kentuckian
“They expect us to come back…That’s what I’ve been told in so many different forms, ‘I’ll see you soon.’”

Selena Coomer, Assistant Director, The Prisoners Hope
“You pay both ways. You can pay a small amount that actually leads to a successful productive member of society. Or you can pay a large amount and keep them locked up forever. It’s really up to you. And it’s really up to us, we as the state of Kentucky.”

LaTonya McNeal, formerly incarcerated Kentuckian,
“To me it means life or death. It means whether I’m going to succeed or fail.”

Liberation Identification Advocates:

Advocate Residents:

Ashley Brandt Justin A Brock Alex Clark Leslie Clements
Andrea Diebold Haris Durmic Sarah Duke David East
Darlene Eisert L Figg Kathryn Gagel Cynthia Garrett
Debra Graner Jennifer Gruzella Brittany Hall Alexa Hatcher
John Higgins Andrea Huckleby Chauncy Huff Jo Ann Kalb
Amelia Kirby Kathryn Knotts Angela Newcomb Kungu Njuguna
Nicole Krider Jonathan Lewis Taylor Mankle Kevin Middleton
Kathy Mullen Melody Murphy T. Kerby Neill Elizabeth Newbould
Derrick Oehrle Bill Oldham Anne Peak Ashley Pirtle
Antonio Readus John Rosenberg Margaret Seifert Dwight Smith
Dulce Solorio Anne Stevenson Ann Tichenor Laura Tornes
Laura Whitaker Sherry White Bruce Windsor

When leaving incarceration in Kentucky, too many people are stepping into the hallway of community without the key card to access any of its resources—a photo ID. To meet needs critical to survival and success upon reentry—including housing, employment, nutrition assistance, healthcare, mental health services, and substance use treatment—providers and employers require state-issued photo identification. The lack of one creates a barrier blocking the very first steps on a new path forward.

Unfortunately, the process of securing a photo ID is burdensome, requiring life documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, and/or other state-verified papers—to which many reentering people do not have access. Obtaining this paperwork often takes months as well as monetary resources. Even after procuring documents, people leaving incarceration face transportation challenges and required payments when receiving an ID through local government.

When people are unable to efficiently obtain an ID, the reentry hallway becomes a dead end. They cannot wait months for paperwork before finding income to secure food, medicine, a place to sleep, and other essentials.

Kentucky cannot wait either. Our state incarceration rate persists as the sixth highest in the nation while our recidivism rate exceeds 35%. Each barrier residents face upon reentry increases the likelihood that they will return to the criminal legal system, continuing to drive these trends and costs in the wrong direction. The wake of this impact hinders the prosperity of our state across the board, particularly affecting our employers. Kentucky has the second-lowest workforce participation rate in the country despite a growing number of fair chance employers willing, able, and motivated to hire people who have paid their debt to society. To change this trajectory, we must ensure reentering workers are equipped with the most basic tool needed for job applications and employment—a photo ID.

In the 2022 legislative session, policymakers must invest $250,000 annually to formalize and continue the successful reentry ID pilot program partnership between the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Kentucky Department of Corrections, Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and Kentucky Chamber Foundation. As of February 2022, the program has expanded to all 14 state prisons and one county jail and processed 470 ID applications.

Without investment in foundational supports like an ID program, Kentucky will continue to pay the high budgetary, economic, and social costs of incarceration and recidivism. We must commit to proactive, common-sense strategies to strengthen our state and its residents. We must implement a statewide program providing state-issued photo identification to all people leaving incarceration.

Please CLICK HERE to endorse Liberation Identification, a movement to implement a statewide program providing state-issued photo identification to all people leaving incarceration in Kentucky.


  • Individuals Get on the Right Track to Reenter Society

    “Now is really the time for all of us to not let the foot off the gas pedal and step up for these individuals trying to come out and have a better life.”

    Read Article
  • Smart on Crime Issues Legislative Priorities

    “It’s incredibly discouraging for us when we know the resources exist, but people who are reentering can’t tap into them because they don’t have the basic tools they need.”

    Read Article
  • WAVE Country Interview

    MUW Chief Policy Officer, Mandy Marler, and Liberation Identification Advocate, Jolie Scott on WAVE Country with Connie Leonard. The trio had an in-depth talk about the advocacy around this work, what it would mean for the state to implement a state ID program and how people can get involved.

  • How to help Kentuckians released from jail or prison during COVID-19

    “The current moment lends itself to understanding the challenges of reentry. As a result of the pandemic, Kentuckians know now more than ever how hard it is to reenter the workforce and community life without the supports needed to do so safely and securely.”

    Read Article
  • IDs Are a Necessity for Successful Reentry

    “With the enhanced focus on reducing incarceration in Kentucky due to COVID-19 and the importance of reentry support services especially during the pandemic and recession, providing people with photo ID’s is a critical step towards facilitating reentry. For people leaving incarceration to successfully return to their communities, it is crucial they are able to access to housing, employment, health insurance, mental health services and substance use treatment.”

  • WLLV Conversations with KIPDA—Interview with Amanda Hall, Smart Justice Field Organizer, American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky

    “I knew women, when I worked with this population, who it took us months to get them IDs, and they had people helping them…You have to think about our society and how often we use our IDs. We use it to get employment. We use it to get housing. We use it often we when go to a doctor’s appointments or other medical help. So, these IDs are such a huge barrier.”

  • ACLU-KY Liberation Identification Panel

    “All we want to do is get back to our dream. We had a dream before we went into incarceration. We’re trying to get back to our dream, and that identification is so important…We can do it. Look at us! We can become tax paying citizens and add to our community instead of taking away from our community. You guys can help us.”– Tayna Fogle



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