Vice omits primary reason in piece about work after incarceration

April 13, 2022

By Tim Worstall

In a new piece, Vice reports that the formerly incarcerated have a difficult time gaining jobs as firefighters.

Which, indeed, they do – for a simple reason that Vice entirely fails to mention – the law makes it difficult. Specifically, the law makes it between very difficult and impossible for felons to gain the licenses that firefighters normally need. Vice does not address this, however.

Vice is right that many California prisoners are used to fight wildfires. There’s a certain sense in those who then have that experience looking to transition to paid firefighters on release. However, as Vice notes, this is difficult:

It’s not surprising that some of them would think about firefighting as a career once they are released from prison — after all, they’ve already been doing the work. Yet there are numerous obstacles to finding second-chance employment on professional firefighting crews.

“The Forestry and Fire Recruitment Program set out to change that, and since 2015 it has guided formerly incarcerated people who served in fire camps through the red tape, and into full-time jobs at state and local fire departments.”

Except here’s the thing that Vice doesn’t tell us:

 “Unfortunately, in California, once the prisoners are released, many are unable to continue with a career as a firefighter,” according to a piece from Chron. “While felony convictions don’t necessarily disqualify you from the job in California, two or more convictions prevent a person from obtaining the emergency medical technician credential that is required by many departments, advises Forbes. If an individual only has one felony, they still must wait 10 years after being released from prison before they are able to secure the EMT certification.

 That seems like a pretty important barrier that an article should mention – the law makes it extraordinarily difficult for an ex-felon to get the license required to be a professional firefighter. You know, given that the whole piece is about the difficult path of getting that job as a professional firefighter as an ex-prisoner.

Vice is an important part of the modern media landscape. The magazine has a 900,000 piece distribution, the cable channel reaches 60 million American homes, the site gains some 27 million visits a month. They’ve the resources to make a quick Google to find things out that is.

The point here is not to just shout Aha! At Vice not having done the basics of trying to work out what is going on in this case. It is rather to point out that if they’re missing things as obvious as this then what aren’t they checking on more complex subjects?


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