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This Wednesday, Riverside County Jail became the first county institution to send inmates to California’s fire camps, in which state prisoners help put out fires. Richard de Atley of P.E. bloggers reports:

The 20 inmates were sent Wednesday, June 5 to the CDCR’s Sierra Conservation Camp training facility, in Jamestown. CDCR has agreed to place the trained county inmates in Riverside County fire camps, whenever possible.

. . .

County Supervisors in April approved a Sheriff’s Department proposal to supply county inmates to the fire camp program. More inmates will be sent every two weeks until the program reaches capacity of 200 Riverside County inmates at any time during the next five years.

Riverside County’s five jails have been at capacity shortly after realignment began. More than 10,000 inmates have been released early due to realignment, jail officials have said.

. . .

Riverside County will pay $46.19 daily per inmate. The funds were set aside from realignment money controlled by the Community Corrections Partnership, a joint local agency that includes the probation, sheriff, mental health department and district attorney and public defender’s offices.

Riverside County’s fire camps are located in Norco and Hemet. The county also maintains the Oak Glen camp, located in northern Riverside County inside the San Bernardino National Forest in the San Gorgonio Mountain Range, according to the Riverside County Fire Department’s web site.

In addition to helping fight wildfires, inmate camp members do public road maintenance and community service work.

For readers unfamiliar with California’s fire camps, I highly recommend Philip Goodman’s work (exhibit A, exhibit B). Not only do the fire camps alleviate prison overcrowding, they provide a much-needed public service. As an interesting aside, the strict racial divisions within the institutions blur when inmates work side by side on life-saving work.

Obtaining a job as a fireman after release from prison, however, may be tricky, as the fire departments run thorough background checks.

Props to Caitlin Henry for the blog link.

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1 Comment

  1. If they are good enough to train and help, why not give them an opportunity to continue working after release?

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