Press Enterprise — Riverside County is the first of the state’s counties to send jail inmates to join the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s fire camp program, which trains qualified prisoners to help in fighting wildfires.
The 20 inmates were sent Wednesday, June 5 to the CDCR’s Sierra Conservation Camp training facility, in Jamestown. CDCR has agreed to place the trained county inmates in Riverside County fire camps, whenever possible.
The arrangement came out of an issue raised by state prison realignment which began Oct. 1, 2011. Under realignment, inmates convicted of non-violent, non-sexual or non-serious crimes are sentenced to county jail rather than state prison.
That meant a gradual depletion within the state prison system of inmates with a qualified background to participate in the fire camp program. The CDCR proposed to allow counties to contract some of their inmates back to the state system to keep the fire camps supplied with personnel.
County Supervisors in April approved a Sheriff’s Department proposal to supply county inmates to the fire camp program. More inmates will be sent every two weeks until the program reaches capacity of 200 Riverside County inmates at any time during the next five years. continue reading...