New laws ease transition from prison

By Amy Cherry 3:11pm, July 9, 2014
VIDEO: WDEL's Amy Cherry talks with ex-offender Corie Priest about his transition from prison.
Governor Markell signs a package of criminal justice reforms into law aimed at reducing recidivism.

WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.

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Getting a job as an ex-con isn't easy. But Corie Priest will tell you, what's harder is getting to that job without a license.

"It was definitely a big, big obstacle not having a license for me," said Priest.

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Under a new law, ex-cons whose crimes had nothing to do with vehicles will no longer have to wait to get their drivers' license back once they're released from prison.

Priest wasn't so lucky. When he was released from prison in 2011 after serving time on drug charges, he struggled for a year to get to his job in Delaware City to probation and aftercare. He remembers even the simplest of things were hard.

"Doctors appointments, grocery shopping, so we take it for granted, when we don't have our license," said Priest.

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It took Priest a year to get his license back, and now he holds it proudly in his hands.

"It was a breath of fresh air like I was coming over, I was getting over the hump to getting my life back in order once I got my license back, I seriously kid you not," Priest said.

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It took him another month to get a car and now he's riding in style!

"I got a Mercedes," he laughed.

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But it was a long road till then, and Priest admits without loved ones to drive him everywhere...

"It was difficult. If I didn't have a good team around me, then I may have probably re-offended," he admitted.

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As he held his license in his hand, Priest said he felt like his identity was restored.

"Not having this is like you're lost," he said.

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Another bill signed by Gov. Markell at the new Achievement Center on Vandever Avenue allows the Department of Correction to hire ex-cons, who showed exceptional job skills behind bars, for short-term employment as they get back on their feet.

A third measure allows judges to use discretion in imposing concurrent or consecutive sentences.

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