Fernando Herrera served in one of California’s inmate fire camps. He credits the experience with helping him turn his life around. Even so, Fernando is unable to get certified as a first responder because of his record. Now, Fernando is joining an existing lawsuit from the Institute for Justice (IJ) that challenges California’s ban on EMT certification for people with felony convictions.
Fernando grew up in Marysville, California, and got involved with what he calls the “street lifestyle” when he was 14. While in detention, Fernando and his friends attacked another boy they had previously assaulted. Prosecutors threatened a host of charges related to the fight and previous incidents, prompting Fernando to take a plea deal that admitted to two adult felonies.
Following his time in custody, Fernando served with the California Conservation Corps, a state program that provides development for young adults through work in fire protection, land maintenance and other conservation work. Serving in the Corps, Fernando helped battle the 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in California history.