Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

California Wildfires: Inmates Are Risking Their Lives Working Alongside Firefighters for $2 a Day


November 15, 2018

As California firefighters work to contain the largest wildfire in state history, they find themselves working their 24-hour shifts alongside a group of unlikely partners: 3,400 inmates from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The groups work in unison, but while salaried California firefighters earn an annual mean wage of $74,000 plus benefits, inmates earn just $2 per day with an additional $1 per hour when fighting an active fire.

Inmates without histories of arson, sexual crimes, kidnapping, gang-affiliation, escape attempts or facing a life sentence are allowed to volunteer for the firefighting program and are trained for two weeks in fire safety and field conditions before taking a physical exam. Once the exam is passed, prisoners are sent to live in one of 43 low-security field camps throughout the state. Juvenile delinquents are also eligible for the program, at least 58 youth offenders are currently fighting active wildfires.


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