California governor signs bill to help inmate firefighters

Photo from San Francisco Chronicle

Photo from San Francisco Chronicle

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill this past month to not only aid firefighters in their battle with the flames of the recent raging wildfires but also to guide the process of resocialization and rehabilitation within prisons across California. Technically, inmates have been putting out fires in California since the 1900s in a similar fashion to the volunteers, so this isn’t the first time California has had a shortage of manpower to put out fires across the state. During World War II there was also a gap in the American workforce which led to incarcerated volunteers fighting flames. But instead of being used as cheap laborers, today’s volunteers are compensated. The average salary of California firefighters is 54,000 a year, yet there’s a more than substantial difference in pay the volunteers get on average 4 dollars per day. The program doesn’t apply to those who’ve committed violent felonies, but it helps those who want to turn their life around. The early termination of probation, parole, or supervised release are all options if the court determines that the defendant has not violated any of the terms or conditions of their petition during the time that the petition of their release is being considered for confirmation. As far as prison reform goes, there’s still a ways to go, but this bill is the first of many steps to a better jail system.