People incarcerated in California who has volunteered to fight wildfires in the state are now able to have their criminal records be expunged. This makes it easier for these inmates to start a career as professional firefighters.
On Friday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law giving prison laborers a better chance at acquiring a job after they’ve been released.
Newsom tweeted about the law that included a photo of himself in front of a burned-down forest while he signed the bill into law.
CA’s inmate firefighter program is decades-old and has long needed reform.
Inmates who have stood on the frontlines, battling historic fires should not be denied the right to later become a professional firefighter.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) September 11, 2020
Before the new law, ex-cons were often prevented from getting a job in firefighting because of their criminal records. Professionals train the inmate firefighter crews but they only earn $1 per hour of work. Professionals earn $40,000 per year or more.
People who’ve been convicted of sex offenses or violent crimes have been excluded from the record-cleaning program, even if they were inmate firefighters.
The current fire season in California is one of the worst in history. This week, fires in Northern California have created apocalyptic-looking scenes. Inmate crews work together with professionals, fighting the fires on the front lines.
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.