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Newsom Signs Bill Clearing Path for Ex-Inmates to Become Firefighters

Governor Gavin Newsom signs the bill. – Courtesy photo / Twitter, @CAGovernor

At the site of the North Complex Fire Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 2147, a bill that eliminates barriers that prevent former inmate fire crews from pursuing a career as a firefighter once they serve their time. Authored by Assemblymember Eloise Gomez Reyes, the bill allows nonviolent offenders who have fought fires as members of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s fire camps to have their records expunged, paving the way for individuals leaving fire camps to seek employment and further training.

“This legislation rights a historic wrong and recognizes the sacrifice of thousands of incarcerated people who have helped battle wildfires in our state, and I would like to thank the Legislature for passing this bill,” said Newsom.

“Signing AB 2147 into law is about giving second chances. To correct is to right a wrong; to rehabilitate is to restore,” said Assemblymember Gomez Reyes. “Rehabilitation without strategies to ensure the formerly incarcerated have a career is a pathway to recidivism. We must get serious about providing pathways for those that show the determination to turn their lives around.”

Despite their experience and qualifications, many formerly incarcerated firefighters struggle to obtain licenses and employment due to their criminal records. Under AB 2147, formerly incarcerated individuals can file a petition in county court to expunge their records and waive parole time, which will open career pathways in emergency response and a variety of other disciplines.

September 14, 2020

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