Dario lives in Alturas, California, where he works as a seasonal firefighter. The work is interesting, physically engaging and a way to help others for a living. But a decade ago, Dario was living a different life.

Dario started hanging out with a tough crowd in high school, and in his 20s he struggled to find purpose. He was convicted of two felonies and spent time incarcerated. Approaching 30, Dario realized he had to change. He stopped hanging around with his old friends. He reconnected with his father, a retired San Diego sheriff sergeant. He regularly attended church. And, thinking back to when he had served in the state’s fire camps, he decided to become a firefighter.

Since then, Dario has done everything right. He completed EMT training, he completed firefighter training and he repeatedly worked as a seasonal firefighter. He even passed the national EMT exam. The final step to becoming a firefighter was getting licensed as an EMT. But in the end, none of his experience mattered. When he applied for the EMT license, California denied his application. Because of his two felony convictions, which are already 15  years old, the state will deny him for the rest of his life. Nothing he has done, and nothing he can ever do, will change that. That’s the law in California.

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