The danger in permitting such a program is not that it provides much needed help to fight devastating fires throughout the state, but that it puts an already highly disadvantaged group into a disadvantaged situation that can likely cause lifelong medical issues and can even prove fatal. Being in the wake of intense fire and smoke can result in severe lung and heart complications and intense reactions in the ears, nose and throat that last for decades.
The tragic fires sweeping through southern California have
resulted in dozens of deaths and have brought out only the best of the best to
help contain the rampant flames. While many of the best include the Los Angeles
and Santa Barbara Fire Departments, it also includes local prisoners.
Several thousand prisoners throughout the state have
volunteered for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation volunteer
firefighting program, which entails prisoners taking on the role of
conservation specialists. When they are providing hard physical labor such as
cutting down trees, helping in the upkeep of state parks and assisting in tasks
meant to protect areas from floods, these inmates only earn $2 a day. If they
happen to be taking their stances on the front lines with highly trained California
wildfire fighting professionals, they earn $1 an hour.
While many are reasonably terrified for the lives of
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