Home Fire News California Governor gives prisoners a chance to become full-fledged firefighters

California Governor gives prisoners a chance to become full-fledged firefighters

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Joseph Wilkinson

New York Daily News

They’ve won this fight.

Incarcerated people in California who fight the state’s wildfires can now have their criminal records expunged, making it easier for them to become professional firefighters.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law Friday that gives prison laborers a better shot at getting jobs once they’re released.

“Inmates who have stood on the frontlines, battling historic fires should not be denied the right to later become a professional firefighter,” Newsom wrote in a tweet, which included a photo of himself signing the bill in front of a burned-out forest.

Previously, ex-cons were often held back from firefighter jobs because of their criminal records. Inmate firefighter crews are trained by professionals but earn just $1 per hour for their work. The pros pull at least $40,000 per year.

People convicted of violent crimes or sex offenses are excluded from the record-clearing program, even if they’ve fought fires.

California’s current fire season is among the worst in history. Fires in northern California have created apocalyptic scenes this week. Inmate crews work hand-in-hand with pros on the front lines fighting the fires.

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