Justice Department says new policies to help ex-felons stay out of prison

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Washington (CNN)The Justice Department says it is launching new policies designed to help convicted felons released from custody find work and rejoin their families, and not return to prison.

As part of the policy, announced Monday by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the federal Bureau of Prisons will provide each prisoner -- upon incarceration -- a plan for when they get out. Federal prisoners will receive educational, job training, substance abuse and mental health help.
Lynch is urging states and the District of Columbia to make it easier for ex-felons to trade in their prison IDs for state-issued identification.
    The new effort follows on moves in recent years by the Justice Department and by the states to reduce sentences for non-violent offenses and change sentencing requirements that are now widely viewed as discriminatory against blacks and other minorities. Many of the 600,000 former prisoners who leave federal and state prisons struggle to find work, in part because of a lack of educational or work skills.
    "Supporting successful reentry is an essential part of the Justice Department's mission to promote public safety -- because by helping individuals return to productive, law-abiding lives, we can reduce crime across the country and make our neighborhoods better places to live," Lynch says in a policy memo.
    Lynch plans to announce the new effort called the Roadmap to Reentry on Monday afternoon during an event in Philadelphia. Lynch and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates are visiting prisons and highlighting model reentry programs as part of a series of public events to mark National Reentry Week.
    In letters to governors of the 50 states and the mayor of Washington, Lynch asked for changes in local policies that often make it difficult for returning prisoners to obtain state-issued identification.
    The lack of ID is an obstacle for job-seeking ex-prisoners, Lynch says. She asked that prison identification and release documents be accepted by the local jurisdictions as documentation needed to obtain state-issued identification.