Thursday, December 3, 2020
Home Global California clears way for inmate firefighters to enter profession upon release

California clears way for inmate firefighters to enter profession upon release


Gov. Newsom

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signs Assembly Bill 2147 after he toured the North Complex Fire zone in Butte County on Friday. AB 2147 allows inmates who have worked as firefighters to ask the court to dismiss their charges to make it easier for them to find a job once they are released. | Paul Kitagaki Jr./The Sacramento Bee via AP

SAN FRANCISCO — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed a bill allowing prisoners who fight fires while incarcerated to have their records expunged after serving time so they have an easier path to becoming regular firefighters upon release.

The bill addresses the emergence of an unexpected social justice issue this summer as massive wildfires during a pandemic exposed California’s longtime reliance on inmates to suppress fires.

Advertisement

CA AB2147 (19R), by Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes (D-Grand Terrace), lets prisoners who served in a state firefighting camp or on a county fire hand crew apply to the court to dismiss their convictions so they can qualify as EMTs, a necessary step to becoming a firefighter.

The law “will give those prisoners hope of actually getting a job in the profession that they’ve been trained,” Newsom said upon signing the bill Friday in Oroville, where the North Complex Fire has burned 250,000 acres and 10 people have died. The bill excludes those convicted of certain crimes, including murder, kidnapping, rape, arson or any felony punishable by death or life imprisonment.

The state released thousands of inmates early this spring to clear cramped prisons and reduce Covid-19 exposure risks — particularly lower-risk offenders who might normally serve in fire camps. Hundreds of rare lightning strikes across the state in August then put severe demands on California’s firefighting force, and the state acknowledged that its inmate crews were thinner this year due to the releases.

About 3,100 inmates helped fight fires last year. While California has long relied on inmates to fight fires, social justice efforts were full steam this summer after the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, and advocates seized on California’s use of prisoners as a serious problem.

The bill is intended to provide a quicker path for inmate fire crew members to become professional firefighters, which advocates said was a matter of fairness for those who serve their time and demonstrate their abilities.

“Rehabilitation without strategies to ensure the formerly incarcerated have a career is a pathway to recidivism,” Reyes said in a statement. “We must get serious about providing pathways for those that show the determination to turn their lives around.”

But law enforcement members and prosecutors opposed the bill, arguing that those who serve time in prisons have already been deemed a higher risk and would pose a danger to the public.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Ryder Cup 2010

McDowell knew the Twenty Ten course like the back of his hand. He’d won the Wales Open on the course that year and during a period when he lived in Cardiff he used the venue as his practice area.As the match descended into the home stretch McDowell sunk a 15-foot birdie to go 2-up on…

GB’s Evans calls opponents ’embarrassing’

Evans was knocked out in the singles in the first round by Kei Nishikori of JapanBritain's Dan Evans said his doubles opponents were "embarrassing" after becoming involved in an on-court row at the French Open.The British singles number one and Polish partner Hubert Hurkacz beat Dutchman Matwe Middelkoop and Brazilian Marcel Demoliner in the first…

US team walks off after ‘homophobic slur’

Collin Martin (pictured playing for former club Minnesota United) came out as gay in 2018Landon Donovan said his San Diego Loyal "would not stand" for bigotry having left the pitch in protest after an alleged homophobic comment was aimed at openly gay midfielder Collin Martin.An opposition player from Phoenix Rising was accused of making the…

As colleges reopened, many more young people got covid-19, CDC reports – msnNOW

Covid-19 cases surged nationally among 18- to 22-year-olds between Aug. 2 and Sept. 5, according to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which urged young adults as well as colleges and universities to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.Weekly cases among the age group jumped 55…