California uses slaves to fight fires

On the front lines of some of the deadliest fires raging in California, professional firefighters are working alongside prison inmates with one key difference: pay.Cal Fire firefighters make at least $10.50 an hour, according to the agency, and inmates make only $2 a day plus $1 an hour.

All the attention on the wildfires over the past two weeks has begun to draw attention to a prison program in California that, according to state corrections spokesman Bill Sessa, can reduce state firefighting costs up to $100 million a year.

The number of inmates fighting fires varies but with 19 fires burning simultaneously at one point media reports said that there are about 3,800 state prison inmates fighting fires.

Now a national story, inmate firefighter pay has gained steam as a conversation on social media and even in the political sphere where one candidate for state lieutenant governor has called it “slave labor.”

Source: For $1 an hour, inmates fight California fires. ‘Slave labor’ or self-improvement? – The San Diego Union-Tribune


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