Home | About | Donate

'Modern Day Slavery': Prisoner Firefighters Risking Their Lives in California Battling Wildfires an Example of System's Injustice, Say Critics

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/10/30/modern-day-slavery-prisoner-firefighters-risking-their-lives-california-battling

I totally agree with this bill, and have never agreed to paying these FF’s such low pay for putting their bodies on the line, CA. and other states that use this practice should be ashamed of themselves. That being said, I worry about the integration of these men and women into the ranks of non-felony Firefighters. I worry that with their backgrounds, there is the possibility that some will become scapegoats for problems that normally arise on the fireground and at the station, believe me, shit happens. What the authorities might consider is ex-felon stations, staffed entirely with ex-felons, who have work well together in the past. Trust in what your fellow FF is going to do in any given situation is critical to a positive outcome, more I’m afraid than most people know, who have never worked in this line of work. I have not talked to Firefighters who have worked beside these Prisoner/Firefighters, so on a positive note, I could be completely off base here, and they may have already gained the FF communities’ respect with their past actions, in a prefect world, that would be the case. Good luck to them all, they’ve earned it.

1 Like

The firemen for cal fire are thankful for how hard these guys from the prisons work. They also think they should be paid for their work. Kamala Harris and Jerry brown fought endless court cases to keep these guys in jail. They consisted of mostly low level drug offenders. This is slavery.


So Kamala Harris is OK with the equivalent of slavery as it saves the state a lot of money. I wonder how some of her ancestors who were enslaved would feel about that. This is the Attorney General who jailed 1500 pot heads and let Steve (the Foreclosure King) Mnuchin skate free. Dear Stevie went to an appropriate reward as Trump’s Treasury Secretary.
I suppose this a fitting background for a wanna be President. It would fit if she was a Republican.
Theoretically prison is supposed to rehabilitate. I can’t think of anything more rehabilitating than dangerous community service; but they should be allowed to work in the field after they get out. Once you’ve done the time you should be through, no more disadvantage. To restrict one’s employment possibility is to invite recidivism.


When the 13th Ammendment was ratified the ruling class knew what they were doing (forced labor was abolished - except for prisoners). The Plantation has returned with a vengence with private for-profit prisons.


I thought, as you indicate, that we have anti-usery laws. Besides that, shouldn’t people putting their lives in danger only be volunteers?

My understanding is they are volunteers, and have to pass a basic woodlands firefighting course to participate. The reason so many volunteer is they are housed in a different structure when at the prison, with many perks (like cooking their own food, etc.) and a small amount of freedom, compared to the general population in the prison system. To us these perks would be small vs the risks they take, but if your in the system, for them it’s a big deal, and helps instill a huge amount of pride and self-worth, something sadly lacking in the general population. The states that have these systems in place, know they can exploit the prisoners for these very reasons, without paying them what their work and risk are truly worth.

I am a 72 & retired fire fighter with no lungs to speak of . .and I was careful.