Mar 28 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Mark Warner (D-VA) recently introduced The BOP ID Act, bipartisan legislation to ensure that eligible individuals leave prison with a valid form of government identification and that various federal government components accept it.  

A valid form of ID is crucial for people leaving prison. It is necessary to secure a job, obtain housing, and rejoin communities. Yet up to 48% of people leaving federal prison do so without any vital documents—no Social Security card, birth certificate, or state ID. 

The bipartisan legislation is endorsed by the American Conservative Union. 

“A valid form of ID is a critical first step for those looking for a fresh start and is necessary to become a productive member of society,” said Senator Tillis. “This legislation requires the Federal Bureau of Prisons to issue a photo identification card to all incarcerated individuals, making the transition back to society easier and paving the way for a better future.”

“Improving reentry outcomes for those returning from prison is a commonsense way to improve public safety by reducing recidivism. The BOP ID Act would take important steps to ensure those leaving custody have the valid government photo identification needed to obtain housing, access services, and gain employment. We are thankful for this effort to drive down recidivism rates and urge Congress to move the bill through both chambers,” said David H. Safavian, Executive Vice President & General Counsel, CPAC.


The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is currently rolling out a program to issue a photo ID release card to individuals exiting the prison system; however, there is no guarantee that this ID card would be widely accepted, or fulfill the requirements necessary to access federal benefits. This legislation would ensure that all eligible individuals receive a photo identification card, and that identification is accepted by various federal agencies.   

Specifically, The BOP ID Act would:

  • Require the BOP to issue a photo identification card to all incarcerated indviduals, except non-citizens, upon exiting the BOP facility;
  • Direct the BOP to create a system where BOP issued cards can be exchanged for state identification card;
  • Require federal agencies to accept release cards as proof of identification;
  • Specifically requires that the ID be accepted as a valid form of identification for social safety net programs, like SNAP, TANF, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and other programs administered/funded by the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Veterans Affairs, and Housing and Urban Development. 
  • Require acceptance of the ID for entry into federal buildings and for probation pretrial, and court services in federal and D.C. courts. 

In the House of Representatives, Reps. David Trone (D-MD), Barry Moore (R-AL), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), and Nathaniel Moran (R-TX) have introduced companion legislation.

Full text of the bill is available HERE