Each fire season in California has been longer and more severe than the previous year. You are probably aware of how dire the situation is right now, even if you live nowhere near the hot zones; coastal cities have been inundated with smoke and haze for more than a week. The skyline of late is reminiscent of pictures taken on Mars.
Our readers may remember a post from last year about the nearly 3,000 inmates serving on fire crews. We covered a report from the The Los Angeles Times shining a light on how incarcerated individuals were volunteering to smother the flames. It was revealed that most brave individuals would never be able to secure a position in a fire crew upon their release.
A significant facet of criminal justice is rehabilitating inmates; job training is offered to the incarcerated, with the hope of reducing recidivism rates. However, the courageous ex-cons being paid $2-5 a day to put their lives at risk have been hindered from seeking the same type of work upon release.
California law instructs emergency services agencies to deny EMT certification to any applicant who has committed any felony within the past 10 years, convicted of two or more felonies, or is on parole or probation.
Former Inmates Right to Fight Fires
Last week, we observed September 11th memorials. It was time to remember the thousands of lives lost and pay respect to the brave men and women who met the day responding to the tragedy. Tens of thousands of first-responders voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way to save lives.
It seems fitting that California Governor Gavin Newsom would sign a bill that paves the way for former inmates to be productive members of society. Assembly Bill 2147 allows inmates who have worked as firefighters to ask the court to dismiss their charges, which makes it easier for them to find a job after completing their sentences, NPR reports. The legislation signed into law states:
“Due to the their service to the state of California in protecting lives and property, those incarcerated individual crew members that successfully complete their service in the conservation camps or successfully complete services as members of a county incarcerated individual hand crew, as determined by the appropriate county authority, and have been released from custody, should be granted special consideration relating to their underlying criminal conviction.”
AB 2147 gives inmates the ability to secure stable employment upon release, adding to the arsenal of men and women who selflessly rush toward a fire when all others head the other way. The bill excludes people convicted of certain violent or sex crimes.
“Inmates who have stood on the frontlines, battling historic fires should not be denied the right to later become a professional firefighter,” Gov. Newsom said upon signing the bill into law at the North Complex Fire zone. “AB 2147 will fix that.”
Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney
The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower can help you or someone you love with a criminal legal matter. Attorney Brower’s decades of experience makes him the ideal advocate for your family. Please contact us today at (714) 997-4400 for a consultation.