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4,000 California inmates are fighting wildfires

By Kesavan Unnikrishnan     Aug 15, 2015 in Environment
Nearly 4,000 prisoners are currently battling wildfires across California making up about 40 percent of the nearly 10,000 firefighters deployed across the state. Participants make $2 per day in the program and $2 an hour when they’re on a fire line.
The prisoners are trained to clear brush that can potentially trigger a fire and also battle the flames when a blaze does occur and are led by a fire captain. The teams work in shifts of 24 hours, followed by a 24-hour break.
Escape attempts are uncommon although there are no guards out on the front lines.
The group is made up of non-violent inmates convicted for low-level felonies. Inmates convicted with arson or sex crimes are usually excluded. Prisoners make $2 per day in the program and $2 an hour when they're on a fire line. Each day of firefighting also earns the inmates a two-day sentence reduction.The inmates stay in 44 fire camps set up across the state often in the middle of the forest.
It is estimated that the program gives California taxpayers an annual savings of $80 million.
Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for Cal Fire, says:
This is a reward for many of these individuals.They're outside the walls, doing good work, learning a skill that they may not get behind bars. You can't deny how dangerous this work is. But there have been only two or three serious injuries and no deaths among inmate firefighters over the past two years.
Demetrius Barr, an inmate convicted of dealing crack who is now on the fire line told Buzz feed:
It’s a little bit — not freedom, but you can move a little bit. You feel like you're doing something, other than just sitting in jail. You feel like you've accomplished something.
This year, California has had over 5,300 wildfires which is a thousand more than the five-year average.
A State Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman said that twenty-three large fires  man...
A State Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman said that twenty-three large fires, many sparked by lightning strikes, were burning across Northern California, some 8,000 firefighters attempting to subdue them. August 1, 2015.
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