Help The Angels In Orange Find A Better Life
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Fighting Fires today is no easy task, especially with the disastrous effects of Climate Change. Even in December the fires that were suppose to have died out months ago, are still raging. In Ventura and Santa Barbara counties alone over 231,700 acres have been lost. Many are not aware that inmates are used night and day to battle these blazes.
About 3,800 inmates, both women and men, fight fires in the state of California, making up about 13 percent of California's firefighting force. The fire program saves taxpayers over $124 million per year, according to the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation. These brave individuals put their lives on the line to save others, yet the training they receive is often less than four full weeks. Whereas civilian volunteer firefighters receives a three year apprenticeship to learn these skills.The average hourly pay for inmates fighting fires is just 98 cents, or $2.57 a day depending on the county they are held in. These are individuals serving time for non-violent offenses. Who have found a new sense of purpose helping others. Which is why many of the people they've helped call them “Angels in Orange.” Yet, these brave men and women are not allowed to become firefighters after they've been rehabilitated.
California has 43 conservation camps across the state, a network of prison-funded fire companies from the borders of Oregon to the border of Mexico. The convict crews, run by the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation and in part by Cal Fire or the Los Angeles Fire Department, has roughly 3,800 to 4,000 inmates a week doing growling and dangerous work. My question is why doesn’t the state get more out of its investment for training these individuals by hiring them when they’re released? Or at the very least, by creating a pathway to employment? It's just common sense for the good of the former inmates, their families, and the community.
In 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court deemed that California's prison population was unconstitutionally overcrowded, because the state was utilizing cheap prison labor in order to save Corporations (like Caterpillar, Pepsi, and Walmart) and municipalities money. One of the reasons the state of California gave in court, to why they were not paroling more people was because “it would be bad for the economy.” My response to this statement is, “what's bad for the economy California, is not allowing your rehabilitated “Angels in Orange” to continue to save lives and property after they are released.”
These brave people have paid their debt to society with no less than blood, sweat, and tears. Some of these brave souls like Matthew Beck and Shawna Lynn Jones, have paid the ultimate price and lost their lives fighting to save the homes and properties of their fellow Californians. Shouldn't they be allowed to seek livelihood for their families in the same field that they have preformed for pennies. Shouldn't they have the right to turn their lives around and further develop the skills that they've already demonstrated for the betterment of us all.
I say Yes! If you do too, please sign this petition demanding that Senator Harris and Governor Jerry Brown, do what's right and help pass legislation allowing inmate firefighters to find employment as civilian firefighters after their time is served.
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