The Trump administration is hurting small business owners and the American economy by excluding business owners who have had contact with the criminal legal system from getting help through the Paycheck Protection Program.
More than 70 million people have a criminal record—that’s one in three working-age adults. With at least 45,000 laws and statutes serving as barriers to education, employment, and housing, those 70 million people face unnecessary hurdles for their entire lives, even after finishing their sentences.
In late March Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act, which included $350 billion in forgivable loans for the Paycheck Protection Program—to help small businesses keep their employees on the payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CARES Act didn’t contain any exclusions, but the Trump administration later added a rule to prevent many small business owners who have criminal records or who have participated in a diversion program from obtaining a forgivable Small Business Administration loan.
Diversion programs exist so that people accused of minor mistakes—things like petty theft or simple drug possession—have an off-ramp from the justice system that protects them from the lifelong burden of a criminal record.
This move will hurt small businesses, their owners, and their employees.
Let the administration know their criminal justice reform rollbacks will hurt, not help.
It’s not the first time the Trump administration has tried to roll back reforms that will have a direct effect on people who have completed diversion programs. In fact, exactly one year ago, they tried to put in place similar barriers for federal job seekers. We fought back then and we won! We can do the same now.