Ohio’s closed BMVs leave returning citizens at a standstill after prison time

Ohio

Since coming home, Bankston is eager to get his life back and begin moving forward

YOUNGSTOWN, OH (WKBN) – As the Ohio BMVs remain closed, some people are facing difficulties moving ahead. 

Deryk Bankston recently finished a 12-year prison sentence. Since coming home, he is eager to get his life back and begin moving forward. 

“What I’ve really been trying to do is just get back into society. Get a job, bank account, drivers license, car, just the essential things that you need to be productive,” Bankston said.

Bankston has a couple of jobs lined up. However, because he cannot apply for a state ID or a driver’s license, he is at a standstill. He can’t even open a bank account. 

“The ID they gave me, a prison-issued ID which says ‘offender release ID,’ I can’t get anything with. I can’t open an account, I’ve been to multiple banks, they refused to accept it. They tell me I need a state-approved ID or a driver’s license,” he said.

Bankston said he’s tried calling different departments and talking to different people, but there isn’t much that can be done. 

“I called the governor’s office, spoke to them, spoke to the House of Representatives, and they can give me a date on when retail stores can be open, May 12, but why ain’t the BMVs being opened? ‘Cause I would think that’s more important than shoes and clothes,” he said.

Right now, there is no set date for Ohio BMVs to reopen, although retail stores are set to reopen on May 12. 

Out of Ohio’s 181 BMV locations and 52 driver examination stations, there are five that remain open. However, they are only open to offer CDL and commercial licenses. 

“It’s like I’m on hold, but I’ve been on hold for 12 years. Now I’m here trying to do what I should be doing, you know, being responsible and taking care of my obligations, but I can’t,” he said.

“When they get a second chance, even though people don’t give it to them, they want to prove like, ‘I’m worthy of being a tax-paying citizen,’ which they are,” said Dionne Dowdy of United Returning Citizens in Youngstown.

Dowdy said there are others in similar situations. 

“These are the obstacles that are going on. These are the things, the barriers that people have coming in front of them. So if nothing else, we can learn from this,” she said.

With the spread of COVID-19, some inmates have been released early. These inmates will also face the challenge of getting back into the workforce while many necessary businesses remain closed. 

Anyone who may be in need of resources from a re-entry program can contact United Returning Citizens at 330-406-0827 or Home for Good at 330-743-3700.

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