Hundreds of California inmates helping fight wildfires for just a few dollars a day

Hundreds of California inmates helping fight wildfires for just a few dollars a day


Hundreds of California inmates are helping to fight wildfires raging across the state — and getting paid just a few bucks a day for their efforts.

Inmate “hand crews” have been used as a key source of firefighting labor in the Golden State for decades, but the practice is facing increased scrutiny with critics saying its a form of slave labor.

Currently, there are at least 100 crews made up of 1,219 incarcerated firefighters battling several of the more than two dozen blazes raging across the state, the Fresno Bee reported Thursday.

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Each crew is typically overseen by a captain from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. They use chainsaws and tools to cut firelines, and they help mop up after a fire is contained, according to the newspaper.

They make between $2 and $5 a day, plus $1 per hour when they’re on a fire, the report said.

Activists charge the measly amount is appalling considering

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