California reducing inmate crews

CalFire inmate crew

CalFire says the state’s inmate fire crews will be reduced because of the California’s decision to move low-level offenders from state prisons to space in county jails. The state’s inmate crews are often the first crews on initial attack. More than 4,000 in the state are trained in wildfire suppression skills, but the number is expected to be closer to 2,500 this summer.

The shift is one result of Gov. Jerry Brown’s realignment program, which reduces the number of state prisoners and cuts costs by housing more inmates in county jails. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that county inmates could make up the loss, but the state and county sheriffs have not yet agreed on details.

CalFire inmate crew
CalFire inmate crew

Inmate crews stay in 42 conservation camps throughout the state. They can be assigned to wildfires or dispatched out for non-fire emergencies, and the crews provide labor for fuels reduction projects and even park maintenance. Inmates are paid about $1 per day, or $1 per hour when fighting fire. The state has 169 crews, three of which are women-only, with 13 to 17 people on a crew.

An editorial in the Redding Record-Searchlight said the conservation camps need a hero who can save the system from collapse.

Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal, the president of the California State Sheriffs’ Association, said sheriffs and state officials are drafting an agreement that would charge counties $46 per day for keeping county inmates in the camps. Royal said most sheriffs won’t participate, though, because of the cost.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.