Senate: Pilot Program for Small Business Development by Ex-Offenders

HB 909, Support

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public-policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.

HB 909 creates the Pilot Program for Small Business Development by Ex-Offenders in order to promote the growth of small businesses by individuals exiting the correctional system.

Ex-offenders make up a large population of this nation’s vulnerable in society. After paying their debts to society, ex-offenders are continually penalized by a variety of barriers to re-entering into society as productive citizens. A primary barrier to self-sufficiency after incarceration is the inability to secure and maintain a job, which creates a domino effect that also jeopardizes one’s ability to meet his/her basic needs in life –food, shelter, health care, etc.

On the Feast of St. Joseph in 2013, Pope Francis focused on work as being fundamental to the dignity of a person. He stated, “Work is part of God’s loving plan, we are called to cultivate and care for all the goods of creation and in this way share in the work of creation! Work is fundamental to the dignity of a person. Work, to use a metaphor, ‘anoints’ us with dignity, fills us with dignity, makes us similar to God, who has worked and still works, who always acts (cf. Jn 5:17); it gives one the ability to maintain oneself, one’s family, to contribute to the growth of one’s own nation.”

The Church passionately emphasizes the dignity of work and recognizes that programs such as these will enable ex-offenders to create work opportunities for themselves with the help of mentors. Furthermore, small businesses developed by ex-offenders may create a positive domino effect of creating jobs more other ex-offenders in addition to those who build those small businesses.

The Conference appreciates your consideration and urges your favorable support of HB 909.