For inmates, DMV visit symbolizes new start on life after prison

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Crystal Stuckey goes over her compliance sheet with Cpl. Christina McCain. The sheet shows the steps Stuckey needs to take to reinstate her license. (Sarah Fearing/WYDaily)
Crystal Stuckey goes over her compliance sheet with Cpl. C. McCain. The sheet shows the steps Stuckey needs to take to reinstate her license. (Sarah Fearing/WYDaily)

Crystal Stuckey stood in front of a plain, white screen, looked into the camera and smiled slightly.

Before the shutter snapped, Stuckey turned to a man beside the camera and asked if her orange jumpsuit would be visible in the photo.

“No. The photo is in grayscale, and it’s only from about here up,” he said, holding his hands flat just below his collarbone. “You won’t be able to see it.”

Stuckey, 42, nodded and turned her attention back to the camera, and with a quick flash, the process was over.

Stuckey is one of eight inmates who will be released from the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail in upcoming months equipped with a brand new identification card, issued by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

The inmates had their photos taken and gave their signatures to three DMV employees who visited the jail, located at 9320 Merrimac Trail in Williamsburg, Wednesday afternoon.

For men and women recently released from jail or prison, having an ID can be the deciding factor in whether a former inmate can obtain a job after their release, Cpl. C. McCain said. McCain has headed the bi-monthly program, called DMV Connect, at the jail since its inception in 2012.

In the program, DMV employees bring a “mobile DMV” setup to locations across the state, including jails, prisons, retirement homes, specialized schools and other locations where people may not have the ability to go to the DMV, DMV employee Eddie Chandler said. Chandler has been involved with the DMV Connect program for a year and a half.

For Stuckey, her new ID will replace an ID that was lost or misplaced before her incarceration. She is due to be released March 28.

DMV employees Eddie Chandler, Jeraye Booth and Latasha Hill set up a mobile ID card station at the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail. Cpl. Christina McCain (right) runs the program at the jail. (Sarah Fearing/WYDaily)
DMV employees Eddie Chandler, Jeraye Booth and Latasha Hill set up a mobile ID card station at the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail. Cpl. C. McCain (right) runs the program at the jail. (Sarah Fearing/WYDaily)

The ID symbolizes hope and a new start on life, she said. On Wednesday, Stuckey had 19 days left of her five-month sentence for violating probation on an original charge of obtaining money but false pretenses in 2005, according to court records.

Stuckey’s eyes lit up as she talked about her job interview with Pepsi Bottling Group in Newport News, scheduled for April 3. She said she has been applying for jobs through a program at the jail.

“This is my last time in jail,” she said. “This has been a revolving door for me for years. I’ve been clean from drugs for 12 years and I have a daughter in college.”

“2017 – it’s a new year for me. I think I have everything I need now to stay out for good,” she said.

Inmates not only get their ID cards from the program, but they also get their “compliance summary,” which lists their convictions and the steps or classes they need to take to reinstate their driver’s license, including the amount of money they need to pay, McCain said.

The ID’s will appear in inmates’ property boxes within a week, McCain said.

Between 50 and 60 inmates are scheduled to be released every couple months, McCain said. She visits each person individually when their release is coming up, and asks them if they need a new ID card. She also helps inmates fill out the ID paperwork and obtain their birth certificates.

The $10 DMV fee for the ID card is fronted by the jail, so even inmates with no money can obtain their ID, McCain said.

Inmate Adam Robinson has been in jail on a probation violation for a year and a half, he said. The violation stems from a carjacking incident when he was a teenager in 2002, he said.

Having an ID in his pocket when he steps out of jail will help expedite the process to apply for employment and public assistance, he said.

“You know, when you first get out, you have a long laundry list of things to do,” said Robinson, who is scheduled for release May 30. “The DMV is one of those thing you don’t want to sit through.”

Adam Richardson poses for a photo in the hallway near the jail's intake section, where DMV Connect is set up bi-monthly. (Sarah Fearing/WYDaily)
Adam Richardson poses for a photo in the hallway near the jail’s intake section, where DMV Connect is set up bi-monthly. (Sarah Fearing/WYDaily)

Robinson listed off places he needed to go after his release, including the probation office, the Department of Social Services and potential employers.

He hopes to apply for a job in graphic design, making T-shirts, decals and vinyl vehicle wraps, he said. In the weeks before his release, his wife will put together his resume and pick up job applications so they will be ready when he is released, he said.

“If I didn’t have the ID right away, it would put a halt on all those things for a couple weeks,” he said. “I want to get started as soon as possible.”

Robinson and Stuckey are two of 174 inmates at the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail that received their IDs through the DMV program.

The DMV employees typically process about 25-30 inmate ID’s per visit. Wednesday’s 8-inmate roster was much shorter than usual, McCain said.

“If we can just help one person who really needs it, we did what we had to do,” she said.

Sarah can be reach sarah.f@localvoicemedia.com.