Home>Articles>Gov. Newsom Signs Bill That Expunges Records Of Ex-Con Wildfire Fighters

Governor Gavin Newsom announces signing of AB 2147 in Butte County on September 11, 2020. (Photo: Youtube)

Gov. Newsom Signs Bill That Expunges Records Of Ex-Con Wildfire Fighters

AB 2147 would allow non-violent former convicts to help battle wildfires in California as need for firefighters grows

By Evan Symon, September 11, 2020 2:43 pm

On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law that will allow former non-violent prisoner firefighters to have their records expunged to allow them to be hired as firefighters.

A bill that may help solve the desperate need for wildfire fighters

Assembly Bill 2147, authored by Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes (D-Grand Terrace), specifically notes that those who successfully participated in the California Conservation Camp Program or a county incarcerated individual hand crew and has since been released can have their records expunged. However, this comes with many conditions. Former prisoners cannot have any violent or sexual crimes on their record. Former prisoners would also have to directly petition the court for their records being expunged and not be automatic. Court-ordered probation, parole, and supervision would be removed if expunging is granted, but only if the former prisoner hasn’t violated any of the terms of release.

The bill was written in response to the growing number of wildfires, the numerous states of emergency enacted this year in response to the wildfires, the severe shortage of prisoner firefighters due to COVID-19 releasing many early, the plight of trained wildfire fighters unable to be hired due to jail time, and the shortage allowing many wildfires to spread more than they would have if prisoner firefighters were there. According to the bill, this could potentially bring in thousands of prisoners with wildfire fighting experience into firefighting and wild fire fighting units.

Governor Newsom even noted lasted year that “Some of the toughest work that’s done out there on the lines, some of the most important work, is done by these hand crews.”

Governor Newsom signs AB 2147 in middle of burned out forest

But on Friday, Governor Newsom traveled to a burned-out section of forest in Butte County recently destroyed by the North Complex Fire to announce the signing, as well as to point out the climate emergency in California.

“There is a climate emergency,” explained Newsom. “This is real. It is here now, California is America fast-forward. What we’re experiencing is coming to communities all across America unless we get our act together. This is a climate damn emergency.

“Inmates who have stood on the front lines, battling historic fires should not be denied the right to later become a professional firefighter.”

Governor Newsom then capped off the visit by signing AB 2147 while sitting at the remains of a picnic table in the forest.

Former prisoners kept from fighting fires were pleased with Friday’s signing.

“This is all we could have hoped for,” explained Victor Gabarra, a former prisoner wildfire fighter who hasn’t been able to find work as a firefighter due to his record, in an interview with the Globe. “They’re at least hundreds short this year, I think 600 at last count. And look, a lot of the state is still on fire.”

“This allows them to bridge this gap with us. We went into jail for non-violent offenses, paid our debt to society, and now many of us just want that chance again to lead a normal life, and now this opportunity is there to do it while also still giving back to society by putting out these fires. I know hiring and forgiving criminals isn’t well thought of by some, but with our skills and how many of us really want to get back out there and do this, I think we deserve a chance to prove ourselves and save some people and forest in the process.”

“Any judge worth his salt will know the difference between those of us trying to get our records expunged for the sake of it and getting our records expunged to help. California needs all the help it can get.”

AB 2147 will come into effect on January 1st, allowing the first wave of former prisoner firefighters to be ready in time for the 2021 wildfire season.

Evan Symon
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7 thoughts on “Gov. Newsom Signs Bill That Expunges Records Of Ex-Con Wildfire Fighters

  1. Nice photo op for the King of California. Who smiles like that during such a tragedy? It was disturbing!
    It is disgusting that he used a burned out area where devastating loss has incurred. He then lectures us on climate change and there will be no more debate, never mind that forest management has been ignored.
    Never mind that the initial blaze from a forest fire produces more carbon emissions than 1.1 million cars do in an entire year, according to U.S. Forest Service ecologist Leland Tarnay.
    Well, may be will offset all the carbon we are choking on with more electric car rebates, solar energy.
    http://www.recallgavin2020.com

    1. YES and YES and YES and YES, Cali Girl. To ALL of what you’ve said… and then some.
      This man is an absolutely outrageous lunatic. RECALL

  2. Newsome is a joke. You never took the paycut you promised. You released 8,000 inmates and realized you messed up. Those same inmates would have fought the fires at a cheaper rate. And now you expunge there records which spits in the face of the victims they hurt. A VOTE For NEWSOME is a VOTE to END CALIFORNIA. His only concern is the money this guy is definately getting some kickbacks

  3. This is just a theory….
    But the background looks like a green screen. Notice that Newsom never moves his feet? They even included 2 real life CCP, BYD employees in the video backdrop to make it look more realistic, and so Newsom could signal to his handlers. Why would a delicate tyrant like Newsom subject himself to breathing in the same smoke the rest of us slaves have to breath? Newsom probably filmed this from his vacation home in Montana. He looks completely psychotic. That disturbing shit eating grin and maniacal laugh says it all.
    Meanwhile, back in the real world, they are arresting arsonist for causing climate change.

  4. Fought fires for a few years in Ca in the 80’s and the prison crews were not used to cut direct line. They were used to hold and improve line, indirect lines and fire camp support. They did great job of in the fire camps I was in. I suspect an overstatement by the governor. I wonder if there is an restitution clause in the bill. This does little to address the various fire issues.
    He needs to get legislation passed that allows the saw mills to run – the ex cons can apply for a job there,

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