[4/28/20] – Small Business Relief Provided Under CARES Act Excludes Ex-Felons

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was passed by Congress and then signed into law by President Trump on March 27th, is aimed at providing economic relief to Americans who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the $2 trillion relief bill established the Payment Protect Program (PPP); a program that is to be implemented by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The program authorizes a total of $349 billion to be used by small businesses who have been hard-hit by the pandemic. The funds are to be used to pay up to 8-weeks of wages and benefits, in addition to other expenses.

However, the Marshall Project reported that the SBA issued a new set of rules, which deem small-business owners with criminal records ineligible. According to the PPP FAQ’s, a business would be ineligible to participate in the PPP if an owner of 20% or more of the equity of the applicant

  • Is currently incarcerated;
  • Is currently on probation or parole;
  • Is subject to an indictment, criminal information, arraignment, or other means by which formal criminal charges are brought in any jurisdiction;
  • Has been convicted of a felony in the last 5 years;
  • Has pled guilty, pleaded nolo contendere, been placed on pretrial diversion for a felony in the last 5 years;
  • Or has been placed on any form of parole or probation for a felony in the last 5 years.

Various news reports have documented the concerns and disappointment of small-business owners who fall within those categories as the rules highlight the barriers that ex-offenders face when reentering society. Criminal justice reform advocates and activists have criticized the rules and argue that the language in the original legislation did not bar individuals with a criminal record and it is “inconsistent” with the Trump administrations criminal justice reform efforts (i.e. First Step Act). Their lobbying efforts to have the rule changes addressed/changed have been unsuccessful.

Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom.

The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for Small Business Relief Provided Under CARES Act Excludes Ex-Felons




  • Writing: Explain how the Paycheck Protection Program eligibility criteria highlights the issues pertaining to prisoner reentry.
  • Debate: Small business owners who are ex-offenders have paid their debt to society and have every right to succeed in life.
  • Poll: Do you believe that small business owners who are ex-offenders should be able to apply for the Payment Protection Program loans regardless of what is on their record?

Credit Line: iStockphoto.com/Cindy Shebley

Help us improve! Was this topic relevant to your class?

Leave a Reply