California’s Inmate Firefighters May Soon Be Allowed To Continue Their Careers After Release
A summer heat wave led to another round of wildfires in California which drew attention to the state’s dependence on prison inmates as firefighters and the terrible fact that licensing regulations stop these men and women from continuing this work after they’re freed.
But that may change with A.B. 2147, which lawmakers just passed on August 30 and now awaits Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature. The bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Eloise Gomez Reyes (D–San Bernardino), creates a process for former inmates to get their records expunged when they’re released so that they can qualify for a state license to fight fires professionally.
Currently, California’s oppressive licensing laws prevent former inmates from being able to earn the proper emergency technician license because they have criminal records. But every summer, when the wildfires grow out of control, the state depends on current inmates (who earn $1 per hour) to assist firefighting crews. Over the past couple of years, there’s been more and more media attention paid to the outrage
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