On September 11th 2020, Governor Newsom signed into law AB 2147. With its passage, inmate firefighters are now free to pursue a professional career in firefighting after the end of their prison term.

Currently, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention collaborates with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations to operate conservation camps. These are minimum security facilities that inmates can volunteer at. During their volunteer time, inmates receive training while assisting in fighting local fires.

Under AB 2147 certain non-violent offenders that have participated in the conservation program can request that a court expunge their conviction after release.  Importantly, due to AB 2147, a qualifying ex-con may now receive EMT certification where they previously could not. According to the legislations sponsors, this eliminates any concerns that the former inmate is unable to receive EMT certification, thus opening “a pathway to recidivism.”

 The Governors press release on the bill can be read here.