Summary of “The Incarcerated Women Who Fight California’s Wildfires”

During World War II, California turned its prisons into factories for the military industry and moved inmates into the temporary forestry camps of the Civilian Conservation Corps, a public work-relief program created during the Depression.
In 1946, as part of Gov. Earl Warren’s Prisoner Rehabilitation Act, the state opened Camp Rainbow which – under the joint supervision of the state’s Division of Forestry and the California Department of Corrections – housed inmates to clear fire lines.
”Any fire you go on statewide, whether it be small or large, the inmate hand crews make up anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of the total fire personnel,” says Lt. Keith Radey, the commander who is in charge of a camp where women train.
At Malibu 13, one of three conservation camps that house women, the commander, John Scott, showed me a printout: Inmate firefighters can make a maximum of $2.56 a day in camp and $1 an hour when they’re fighting fires.
After visiting three camps over a year and a half, I could see why inmates would accept the risks.
They’re being trained to work in a field they will probably have trouble finding a job in when they get out: Los Angeles County Fire won’t hire felons and C.D.C.R. doesn’t offer any formal help to inmates who want firefighting jobs when they’re released.
The Conservation Camp Program saves California taxpayers approximately $100 million a year, according to C.D.C.R. Several states, including Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming and Georgia employ prisoners to fight fires, but none of them rely as heavily on its inmate population as California does.
Faced with the prospect of a state in flames, California continues to depend on its inmate firefighters as a tenuous and all-but-invisible line of defense.

The orginal article.