FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15, 2020
Contact: Loretta Kane (917-410-7242 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
JustLeadershipUSA applauds California law to expunge records of formerly incarcerated firefighters
Statement of JustLeadershipUSA President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins
WASHINGTON — Last week, the California Legislature passed AB-2147, a new law that expunges the records of formerly incarcerated people who served as firefighters in state prison work camps. The new law, which was initiated by Gov. Gavin Newsom, allows formerly-incarcerated people, like those who are currently battling wildfires, to have their records expunged upon their release from prison. The law clears the way for some formerly incarcerated people who risked their lives fighting fire to attain firefighter jobs. JustLeadershipUSA President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins issued the following statement in response to the new law:
“JLUSA applauds California’s new law that expunges the records of some of the formerly-incarcerated people who worked as firefighters in prison camps. These people are unsung heroes in the battle to contain the current wildfires; they are experienced firefighters and deserve the chance to continue to give back to their communities by pursuing careers in firefighting upon release.
“But, while the law is a good first step, it falls short. The law will only expunge the crime that sent the person to prison; if a person has been imprisoned previously, they will not have other charges expunged. In fact, only a fraction of the thousands of people who have risked their lives in prison fire camps will be cleared to apply for firefighting jobs.
“A prison record can follow formerly incarcerated people for the rest of their lives, denying them access to living-wage jobs, educational opportunities and housing. A two-year prison sentence can translate into a lifelong sentence to job insecurity, which makes re-entry difficult if not impossible. If we want to stop the cycle of incarceration, we have to give formerly-incarcerated people the chance to work and earn living wages and live with dignity.
“California should extend its new law to expunge records fully — so that the people in prison fire camps have the same chance as anyone else to apply for firefighting jobs upon release. Dignity is a human right — one that is being denied millions of formerly incarcerated people who have done their time only to face a lifetime of discrimination.
Let’s stop punishing formerly incarcerated people and their families and communities and start supporting them when they are released.”