Inmate Firefighters


There’s a great deal of negative press out there about prison inmates. However, here’s an ARTICLE that gives an example of some inmates that are making a positive impact on society. Should we have more inmates doing these kinds of things? What are some positives/negatives?

12 responses to “Inmate Firefighters”

  1. Michael Brody says:

    I think more inmates should be doing these kinds of things. The reality is that most offenders will be reentering their community at some point, so why not reenter with new skills, education, friendships, and so on. All of these latter elements could allow the offender to be accepted back into the community in a more embracing fashion. Overall, the pros outweigh the cons here. Being part of a team or in the article’s case, a unit, breaks down racial barriers, and puts forth one goal for everyone to work towards–stop that fire!
    Of course, no situation is perfect. One con to all of this is if inmate labor and programs were to come to a halt, local governments would have to scrabble millions to keep providing the same services citizens have grown accustomed too. Secondly, offenders may not be getting compensated fairly. Policies need to be put in place to ensure inmates get some form of payment or a sentence reduction.
    In general, CDCR is a great example of inmates doing some good even in the face of dangerous situations. If anything, such rehab programs reduce the typical stigmas of offenders and affords them the opportunities to be seen as courageous or hard-working in the eyes of community members.

  2. Jessica Kaemerer says:

    I think the CDCR is an awesome opportunity for some inmates. It forces inmates to work together as a team and gives them some skills to help them in the real world once they get out of prison. According to the article, it also benefits the community by saving tax payers a lot of money and prevents wildfires from becoming too large. I think there should be way more programs like this one available to inmates because it does more good for them than just the daily life of living inside of a prison. I can’t think of any cons for this type of program except that I’m sure this is a dangerous job so the government would be responsible for anything that would happen to an inmate that gets hurt and that would cost money.

  3. Shannon Lefebvre says:

    The CDCR program is amazing. It not only allows the inmates to do helpful work in the community, but it also allows them to redeem themselves. It teaches so many valuable life lessons such as teamwork, responsibility, and hard work. It allows them to get out their cells and do something productive. It can be dangerous work sometimes and I’m sure that once in a while an inmate tries to run away or something, but other than that it doesn’t seem like it has any negatives.

  4. Paxton Bergin says:

    I think using inmates to help fight fires is a good way to use available resources. It seems like a big win for California because they can use these inmates to help control the large wildfires they often have, and it allows these inmates to learn new skills, break down racial/social barriers, and stay physically fit. I think the only danger to the job could be if they were cutting brush when a fire was headed in their direction. I would assume that the correctional facilities would make them sign a liability waiver. Other than the potential hazard of fighting fire I would say that this is a great opportunity for inmates to get out in the community and give back a little. I think we should have more inmates doing this sort of service to the community because 1 it allows them a little bit of freedom to get outside the grounds, which I am sure they are grateful of. 2 it provides assistance to the community in a positive way. and 3 it teaches some inmates skills they could possibly use in the real world once they get out.

  5. Kasey Miller says:

    I think it is awesome that these inmates are able to help out communities. I can understand that some people would feel a little uneasy about this situation due to the fact inmates are let free by themselves with what could be considered a weapon. Overall I believe this has to be seen as a positive situation though. They are using there ability to help others. Its also a chance for them to be able to show others that there isn’t just bad in there lives. This integrates inmates back into society, which is good considering they will all be released at some point. More jobs like this one in California could be beneficial to states all over the nation. They said it saved tax payers millions of dollars, so why not try implementing this in lots of different areas.

  6. Tim Dies says:

    I think this is a really good way to allow inmates to do something good while they are serving their sentences. instead of letting prisoners sit in prison being no help to society, these prisoners are able to actually give back to their community by helping with firefighting. the way that these prisoners are able to learn about firefighting allows them to learn new skills that they can use when they get out of prison. I feel as though more programs where prisoners are taught skills that they can use later in life would be helpful in reducing the overall recidivism rates. I don’t see any negative affects of programs like these besides the fact that a prisoner could potentially escape given the right circumstances. In the end however I believe that programs like these will allow prisoners to become functioning members of society and will reduce the chance that they end up back in prison

  7. Katie Bucher says:

    I definitely believe that we should have more inmates doing these types of things for our communities. From the article, inmates developed accountability, motivation, pride, a sense of community that did not see race, and the ability to learn to work well with others. I feel that it is more beneficial that inmates are out in the community making a difference rather than sitting behind bars. I think that there are very limited negatives to programs like these. It could be possible that inmates aren’t experiencing the lack of freedom that they would experience behind bars because they are outside in the fresh air. Inmates are given the opportunity to give back to society after they cut their ties with society by committing a crime. In my opinion, it is an excellent program.

  8. Sydney Hanick says:

    I think this is a really good opportunity for the inmates to do aside from working prison jobs. This isn’t just busy work, or a job that helps the prison in itself, this also helps the community immensely. I think this helps build brotherhood and comradery. It will make the inmates feel better about themselves as well. I think this could effect the non-convicted world somewhat, because it could effect them from not getting those positions that the inmates get. I doubt this occurs a lot, but I’m sure it’s obstructed from them getting certain jobs. Other than that I think it’s a good idea.

  9. tiarra merrill says:

    I think these activities are great; there should be more programs implemented like this. It gives inmates the drive to do good and better themselves so that they can qualify for the jobs. It will help them have a better life on the outside; it teaches them adaptive skills, communication, togetherness etc. Although the job requires/ eligibility excludes a lot of inmates. It’s good for the community sake but it could be hindering for those inmates that’s excluded. They might need this to help them as well to rehabilitate them. The physical training aspect is good it keeps them healthy and fit and it sets them up for the working conditions. Also doing this Cal Fire eliminates racism because they accept all races and they learn how to work together and interact with one another. This gives inmates the opportunity to try and continue this line of work once they’re released. With the help of these inmates they are saving lives becoming heroes, this would make them feel good about themselves. This could be a way to help them start thinking more positive about life. These people “They go into areas that nobody else wants to go into, or that dozers are not able to get into. Without them, these fires would not stop.” This should tell a lot about their character and drive. It helps them build motivation give them something to live for, when others see the hard work that they put in; inmates start to internalize it and feel good about themselves. They develop pride and self-worth, they’re able to expand their knowledge and help on other projects that will benefit the communities. I think over all it is a great tactic towards rehabilitation.

  10. Brandon Layber says:

    After reading On the line: Inmate crews prep for busy fire season it is apparent that there is a enormous amount of benefits resulting from training inmates to fight fires. The CDCR partnered with CAL FIRE is doing an awesome job of ensuring safety, saving money, and reshaping inmates who instead would be declining incarcerated. Inmates working labor intensive jobs for a low wage while being able to reduce/prevent wildfires in turn saves taxpayers money in two ways; One way is that the money spent to house inmates isn’t just rotting away in jail but instead helping the community. The second is the reduction of cost to employ and incentivize citizens to fulfill the jobs inmates are working. What I find most beneficial is the rehabilitation of inmates. Through hard work, set expectations, and rewards for hard work, inmates are learning the key aspects of what it means to be a member in the real world. It instills this idea that if you work hard for something, in the end, there will be some reward. The only negative I can see is an inmate no ready for the job, running away during a shift. Although it is not always possible to prevent this, CDCR narrows down a list of inmates they feel are best suited for these jobs.

  11. Tiffani Milbratz says:

    I think this is awesome! For years, these inmates have been told that they’re no good and that they need to do whatever it takes to give back to the community and the fact that the CDCR is allowing the opportunity I think is amazing. Not only are these inmates learning life long skills that they can use when they get released, but they are also finally hearing that they are doing good and that they each have a purpose. The only negative that I can really think of with this program is that in a stressful situation such as fighting fires, I feel as though the inmates may be overlooked and could possibly run off. Aside from that I feel as though this program is extremely positive and I think it’s not only what the inmates need, but also what the community needs!

  12. Adam Earle says:

    I think that this is a great thing to have our inmates do. I think that this is an important factor of rehabilitation, teaching these inmates skills that they can use in the world when they get out. A problem that we have in our criminal justice system is that we have many uneducated people that society has failed to help them teach them a trait that will be beneficial to society, these inmate firefighters learn the value of team work and how to look at people differently than what they may have previously done. I can only imagine that if these inmates still hold the same grudges that they had prior to their incarceration their life will be in danger when they are fighting the wildfires. Much like military members learn that serve in combat, there is no race, everyone is wearing the same uniform.

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