Starting a Business as a Former Inmate
by JamieD, Former Moderator
- Created: March 24, 2010, 12:00 am
- Updated: February 11, 2011, 10:54 am
Each year, almost 650,000 people are released from federal and state prisons to be reintegrated into society. Statistics say that a form of secure and stable employment is vital to a successful transition; however, these individuals often face difficult barriers when it comes to rejoining the workforce. Fortunately, there are resources and opportunities available for former inmates to start their own businesses. Check out this quick guide for more information.
Finding employment as a former inmate can be challenging - especially when a job requires specific marketable skills and applicable work experience. Aware of the importance of successful reintegration, Federal and state government officials are taking steps to help support this process. In 2004 President Bush proposed The Prisoner Reentry Initiative** to provide assistance and job training to these individuals to help them become successful, contributing members of society. For more on employment re-entry, see reentry.gov's national and state activities and resources or the National Reentry Resource Center's employment guide*.
Starting a Business
Most former inmates believe that because of their status, they will not be allowed or able to start their own business. While it's true that getting started and raising capital can be difficult, that is true for any entrepreneur, regardless of their status.
There are no regulations that prohibit former inmates from obtaining a business license or owning their own business. By starting their own business, former inmates may avoid the stigma or qualification issues that often arise when applying for jobs with outside employers.
As is the case for any business owner, former inmates are accountable for the typical responsibilities that come with starting and running your own business. For more information, check out these Business.gov resources that will guide you through the process from start-up to operation:
Incentives - The Work Opportunity Tax Credit
Because former inmates are treated to the same status as other business owners, there are no special programs designed to help start or fund the businesses of former inmates. However, if you own a business that employs or is considering employing persons with a criminal record, you may be eligible for a tax incentive. If a former inmate started a business and chose to employ other former inmates, they may then be eligible for this tax incentive as well.
Check out the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ)‘s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), with support from several federal partners including the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor.
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