Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Prison Inmates Fighting California's Deadly Fires

Popular
Prison Inmates Fighting California's Deadly Fires
California fire inmate crewman sprays down a hotspot at the Rim Fire on Sept. 3, 2013. U.S. Forest Service photo by Mike McMillan

As California faces record-breaking blazes across the state, its Department of Corrections tweeted this week that more than 2,000 inmates are working as firefighters, prompting new debate over this aspect of prison labor.


While California's inmate firefighters are volunteers, they earn just $1/hour in the field—working alongside salaried firefighters who earn an average of $74,000 per year—and are mostly unable to apply for a state fire job upon their release from prison.

"There are some days we are worn down to the core," incarcerated firefighter La'Sonya Edwards told the New York Times last year. "And this isn't that different from slave conditions. We need to get paid more for what we do."

"Look, the biggest, most important thing is putting out the fires," Lisa Graybill, Deputy Legal Director at Southern Poverty Law Center told Newsweek. "And in my experience, prisoners are so eager for the chance to work and chance to demonstrate their rehabilitation that they'll accept any work conditions. But they shouldn't be exploited by the state. They're putting their lives on the line like other California firefighters, and they should be paid fairly for a fair day's work."

For a deeper dive:

Newsweek, Vox, The Independent, AP. Commentary: Washington Post, Danielle Allen op-ed, Washington Examiner, Philip Wegmann column

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

This fall brings three new environmental movies. David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet | Official Trailer

This week marks the official start of fall, but longer nights and colder days can make it harder to spend time outdoors. Luckily, there are several inspiring environmental films that can be streamed at home.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Amazon Employees for Climate Justice walk out and rally at the company's headquarters to demand that leaders take action on climate change in Seattle, Washington on Sept. 20, 2019. JASON REDMOND / AFP via Getty Images

The world's largest online retailer is making it slightly easier for customer to make eco-conscious choices.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Moms Clean Air Force members attend a press conference hosted by Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announcing legislation to ban chlorpyrifos on July 25, 2017. Moms Clean Air Force

The Trump administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a risk assessment for toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos Tuesday that downplayed its effects on children's brains and may be the first indication of how the administration's "secret science" policy could impact public health.

Read More Show Less
Evacuees wait to board a bus as they are evacuated by local and state government officials before the arrival of Hurricane Laura on August 26, 2020 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Maria Trimarchi and Sarah Gleim

If all the glaciers and ice caps on the planet melted, global sea level would rise by about 230 feet. That amount of water would flood nearly every coastal city around the world [source: U.S. Geological Survey]. Rising temperatures, melting arctic ice, drought, desertification and other catastrophic effects of climate change are not examples of future troubles — they are reality today. Climate change isn't just about the environment; its effects touch every part of our lives, from the stability of our governments and economies to our health and where we live.

Read More Show Less
In 'My Octopus Teacher,' Craig Foster becomes fascinated with an octopus and visits her for hundreds of days in a row. Netflix

In his latest documentary, My Octopus Teacher, free diver and filmmaker Craig Foster tells a unique story about his friendship and bond with an octopus in a kelp forest in Cape Town, South Africa. It's been labeled "the love story that we need right now" by The Cut.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch