“When I was in prison, I kind of took on what the world thought of me. [Firefighting] was really the pivot that recentered my life,” Smith says. Firefighting is more than a job, he says. It’s a way of life, a way of moving through the world, which can be especially powerful for people who have been discounted and disregarded. “I matter,” he says. “I can help the community. I can personally atone for the challenges in my life by making the world a better place.”
To have connected with a person’s soul while they were incarcerated only to turn a blind eye once back upon release is a true injustice. Rehabilitation was once a prime objective of the justice system. The damn Calvinistic sickness has bled through and through however. Punishment until death. Sickening. Between bureaucracy and theocracy this nation and its many subcomponents have a lot of growing up to do in my observation. There is a great need to be filled. Above is testimony to the willingness not only to fill the need of society but to fill the need in himself to contribute. Steam comes out my ears. Ray Levy-Uyeda, thank you for bringing this issue to our forum’s attention.
When I was a seasonal US Forest Service firefighter in Northern California during the 70s the incarcerated crews (known then as “con crews”) were crucial to the firefighting effort. Its good to see California providing this transition opportunity in this time of great need former inmates and society.
Therefore with idle hands and head I sit
In late December before the fire’s daze
Punished by crimes of which I would be quit.
- Allen Tate, poet