Washington, D.C.— Today, the House passed two bipartisan prison reform bills authored by House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). The two bills, H.R. 5078, the Prison to Proprietorship Act and H.R. 5065, Prison to Proprietorship for Formerly Incarcerated Act would improve entrepreneurship opportunities for incarcerated individuals—during their time in prison and after their release.
H.R. 5078, the Prison to Proprietorship Act introduced by Chairwoman Velázquez and Ranking Member Steve Chabot (R-OH), would direct Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) and Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) to offer entrepreneurship training services to incarcerated individuals in federal prisons. The program would provide training on topics such as starting and expanding a small business, creating a business plan, and identifying sources of capital. The program would prioritize those set to leave prison within 18 months.
H.R. 5065, the Prison to Proprietorship for Formerly Incarcerated Act introduced by Rep. Jeffries and Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN), would launch a program where SCORE participants provide entrepreneurial development training to the formerly incarcerated. Under the bill, SCORE would provide returning citizens with workshops, mentoring, and training opportunities designed to help them start and run a business.
“Entrepreneurship is a unique avenue for success, and a great idea is much more likely to be made into a reality with proper community support, mentorship and resources,” said Chairwoman Velázquez. “That is why Rep. Jeffries and I are offering solutions that will harness and utilize SBA’s community resource partners including the network of Women’s Business Centers, Small Business Development Centers, and SCORE chapters to provide services so those in federal prison can get the counseling, training, and resources that will help them build a business and a life before their release and directly after.”
“There are people throughout the prison system right now who have same intellect, same entrepreneurial skill and ability as those on Wall Street. The only difference is that they were denied the opportunity,” said Rep. Jeffries. “In the last Congress, we took an important first step toward dealing with the mass incarceration epidemic by passing historic criminal justice reform. This legislation that Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez is championing before her committee picks up where the FIRST STEP Act left off. It is designed to make sure that formerly incarcerated individuals can use their God-given skills, talent and ability to bring business and entrepreneurial activities to life in their communities.”
To watch lawmakers speak on the House floor in support of these bills, click here.