California's realignment policy threatens inmate fire-fighting labor force
- California's realignment policy threatens inmate ...
It’s summer in California, which means fire season is in full force – and it could be the worst one in years. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, better known as CAL FIRE, responds to more than 5,000 wildfires each year. They protect more than 31 million acres of California’s privately-owned wildlands and provide emergency services for most of the state’s counties. In high season, over 20 percent of that firefighting force is made up of state prison inmates. They live and train at special facilities called conservation camps – California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, or CDCR, runs 37 of these camps across state, which house around 4,000 mostly male inmates. But the state’s new policy of realignment, which shifts responsibility of low-level offenders convicted after October 1, 2011 from state prison to county jails, means the future of these camps are at risk. By next year, CDCR estimates the camps will lose half their population.
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Aired on KALW public radio on June 25, 2012.