When Justin Lee comes home from his day job, he spends his evenings pouring more hours into his technology business that helps people with hearing loss and other sensory needs.

His plans to grow Quantum Senses include hiring people to work for his company. And when he does, Prince George’s County will pay him for the new employees.

Lee, 37, became the first employer to sign up for the Prince George’s reentry hiring incentive, which reimburses businesses that hire people returning home from jail or prison.

“We’re in the business of making a difference … changing lives,” said Lee, an aerospace engineer at the Pentagon.

The reentry employment incentive program, which reimburses eligible businesses up to $5,000 annually for every returning citizen employed, was co-created with the county council and County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks. The county has allocated $500,000 toward the program, Alsobrooks said earlier in April, to highlight the county’s reentry efforts as part of the nationally recognized Second Chance Month. The Prince George’s County delegation helped pass legislation for $2 million during the 2023 legislative session to help fund the incentive through 2028, funding that will begin in July.

“What we know is that these investments not only enhance the lives of the people that we invest in, but they also bring something great to our communities and to our businesses,” Alsobrooks said in an interview. “We don’t have any dispensable people in our communities. There’s value in every single human being.”


According to Employ Prince George’s, the county’s workforce development arm that’s administering the reentry hiring incentive funds, the county has the second-highest number of returning citizens in Maryland.

From July 1, 2022, through April 3, 2024, 899 returning inhabitantshave been served through the Bridge Center, which provides wraparound services in Prince George’s, including employment opportunities, according to Michael Williams, director of the returning citizen affairs division that was created two years ago.

Of that group, the recidivism rate is 1.1% – 10 of the 899 people.

“Crime comes about as a result of a lack of hope and opportunity, so making sure that we have those opportunities available and that we continue to provide hope to people is going to be really important,” Alsobrooks said.

Williams said the hiring incentive program launched last fall, and only one employer has signed up so far – Lee.

Lee founded Quantum Senses in 2021, inspired by his friend Kenny, a Vietnam War veteran who died in 2016 of Stage 2 pancreatic cancer. Kenny’s hearing began to dissipate, Lee said, and his wife complained that the television was too loud. Hearing aids were too expensive on their fixed income, Lee said.


Lee decided to create “Earcoustic” headphones made of recyclable plastic with no batteries that help enhance sound for those with mild to moderate symptoms of hearing loss,” he said. Lee said the headphones amplify acoustics like an amphitheater. The product costs $20.

“We’re really satisfying a huge gap – an affordability gap and a disparity gap, which is hearing loss,” Lee said.

Late last year, Lee received the first production units of headphones, and over three to four months, Quantum Senses has sold between 300 to 400 units – a third of the order – to assistive technology libraries, centers for independent living and senior facilities across the country, he said.

Lee said employees will be hired as sales account executives to pair with the director of sales, and travel to health and wellness seminars as well as workshops to sell headphones.

Employees must meet the qualifications for the reentry hiring incentive program, which includes “necessary information about their background and the position they will be filling,” according to the application website, and positions must pay at least $15 an hour.

Private businesses aren’t the only ones encouraged to hire returning citizens. The “pathways to government” program, another initiative, Williams said, pairs the Prince George’s Office of Human Resources Management with Employ Prince George’s. Human resources alerts Employ Prince George’s of job openings at county government agencies, and then outreach begins. Two returning citizens were hired by the government in 2023, and nine have been hired this year, Alsobrooks said.


Lee, who lives in Upper Marlboro, learned about the reentry reimbursement program while mentoring youths released on probation in D.C. One of his friends mentioned that there are programs available to help people “get back on the right track” after incarceration, Lee said. Lee then researched if there were any local opportunities and applied to the Prince George’s program late last year.

Having had some legal issues in the past, Lee said he knows what it means to have another chance.

The application process was lengthy and detailed, including multiple interviews, documentation of a structured framework for the company, certificates and more, Lee said. Now that he has the green light from the county, he already has potential candidates in mind. While hiring may not happen overnight, balancing the sensitivity of transitioning back home, Lee said the people are “brilliant” and he’s excited for what’s to come.

“No matter the difficulties in your life … your faith in God can help you overcome those things, ” Lee said. “You don’t have to allow those situations to dictate your future. That’s what I’m thankful for is that God is allowing us through this business to … be a branch of hope for some people, even myself.”

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