Inmates in California have been involved in fighting wildfires for many years. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has a program called the Conservation Camp Program, which provides an opportunity for low-level offenders to work on firefighting crews to help fight wildfires across the state.
These inmate firefighting crews, known as "hand crews," work alongside other firefighters to clear brush, dig fire lines, and perform other tasks to help contain wildfires. They are supervised by trained firefighters and operate under strict safety guidelines.
Inmates who participate in the program receive specialized training and are provided with protective gear and equipment. They can earn time off their sentences for their work, as well as wages that are higher than what they would typically earn for other prison jobs.
The program has been praised for providing inmates with valuable skills and job training, as well as helping to alleviate the state's shortage of trained firefighters. However, it has also faced criticism for being exploitative and potentially dangerous, as inmates are put in harm's way during dangerous firefighting operations.
Overall, the use of inmate crews to fight wildfires in California remains a controversial issue, with supporters and detractors on both sides of the debate.