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CA firefighting community weighs in on letting inmates convicted of violent crimes help fight fires




A Cal Fire firefighter leads a group of inmate firefighters during a burn operation to head off the Rocky Fire on August 2, 2015 near Clearlake, California.
A Cal Fire firefighter leads a group of inmate firefighters during a burn operation to head off the Rocky Fire on August 2, 2015 near Clearlake, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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California is faced with an unintended consequence of Prop 47 -- the lack of available inmate firefighters.

The Golden State has the nation’s oldest and largest inmate firefighting program, but the number of available inmates qualified to help with firefighting -- i.e. those in minimum-security facilities with no history of violent crimes -- have dwindled considerably.

Now, according to the Associated Press, the state is considering to let prisoners convicted of violent offenses like assaults and robberies join firefighting efforts. Inmates convicted of more serious crimes like arson, rape and kidnapping and those serving life sentences will still be barred.

Guests:

Bill Sessa, spokesman at California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation 

Daniel Berlant, spokesman at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire)

Mike Lopez, president of Cal Fire Local 2881, representing the firefighters of Cal Fire