SACRAMENTO – (Monday, August 22, 2016) – A bill by California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to notify a murdered firefighter’s former fire department when the convicted arsonist seeks parole was signed into law by the Governor today. The bill received unanimous support throughout the legislative process.
AB 898 will require that when an arsonist who murdered a firefighter becomes eligible for parole, the Board of Parole Hearings or the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will provide notice of a parole suitability hearing to the fire department that employed the firefighter. The notification requirement will provide an appropriate opportunity for the fire department to voice their opinion about a prisoner remaining behind bars or being released back into their community.
“Firefighters put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe, and when one is murdered by an arsonist, their loss deserves our highest respect,” said Gonzalez. “Now in California, their brethren will at least be able to know when that murderer is being considered for release back into the community.”
Under California law, arson is often charged as a felony crime as a result of its destructive and deadly nature. According to the California Department of Justice, 37,128 arson crimes were reported from 2010 to 2014 in California.
Since 1981, California law has ensured the notification of relevant, parole-related hearings to a slain peace officer’s former employer. However, a firefighter’s former employer has not previously been included in the parole notification process if he or she lost their life in an arson related fire.
AB 898 is co-sponsored by California Professional Firefighters and CAL FIRE Local 2881.