D.C. Councilman Vincent Orange (D-At Large) wants ex-offenders to have a chance at entrepreneurship when they return home from being incarcerated.
Orange introduced legislation Tuesday to promote self-employment, provide second chances and curb recidivism for the city’s returning citizens.
“One of the biggest challenges facing returning citizens in the District is the inability to be gainfully employed,” he said. “Stigma and public perception results in many employers reluctancy to hire returning citizens. This program allows returning citizens to start their own businesses, become taxpayers, create jobs and give back to their community.”
Orange’s bill would require the Department of Employee Services and the Department of Small and Local Business Development to establish an entrepreneurial program to educate, train, and assist returning citizens in becoming socially responsible entrepreneurs.
“The most efficient way to combat criminal recidivism is by offering returning citizens in the District the opportunity to better their lives by gaining financial independence to provide for themselves, their family, and take the most of their second chances,” he said. “[The legislation] is a progressive solution to reducing recidivism rates and making the District safer.”
An estimated 60,000 people in D.C. have criminal records and about 8,000 of them return to the city each year after being incarcerated. After just three years, roughly 4,000 will be re-incarcerated.
Returning citizens who are unable to procure work are three to five times more likely to commit another crime than are those who obtain employment, officials say.