Plum gig or slave labor? California inmates fight wildfires for $1 an hour
More than 3,000 inmate volunteer firefighters are performing the back-straining labor, according to Cal Fire. They’re clearing brush and digging lines for the Ferguson, Carr and Mendocino Complex fires, which have torched a combined 577,000 acres of California land in another historic season. Despite their training and experience fighting some of the nation’s most severe wildfires, these incarcerated firefighters face extremely narrow pathways to industry work after release. The problem lies with emergency medical technician licenses, said Katherine Katcher, founder and executive director of the re-entry advocacy group Root & Rebound in Oakland.