You can read 9 more articles this month
US ACTIVISTS have blasted an “inhumane” and exploitative programme that sees prisoners paid as little as $2 (£1.57) a day to fight the deadly fires that are raging across California.
Concerns have been raised over the scheme, under which prisoners receive training and time off their sentences for good behaviour in exchange for volunteering to help battle fires.
More than 2,000 people are understood to have enlisted as prison firefighters, including 58 youth offenders, which the state government claims has saved it up to $100 million (£78m).
As many as 14,000 firefighters are tackling the fires. California firefighters receive an average of $74,000 per year plus benefits: the prison inmates earn just $2 per day with an extra $1 per hour while actively fighting fires.
Prisoners who live in one of 43 low-security field camps across the state are often called upon to fight fires. Critics warn that the system is exploitative and takes advantage of offenders’ desire to be released early from prison.
Wildfires are raging across the west-coast state. Its biggest ever blaze, north of San Francisco around Mendocino, has burnt 450 miles of forest and at least 75 homes have been destroyed along with 68 buildings.
The Carr fire, further north, has burnt 271 miles of land, with 1,077 houses having burnt down and more than 500 other buildings. At least seven people have died so far, with services struggling to cope with the fires.
Rights groups have warned against the exploitation of inmates and called for them to be paid a fair wage. Colour of Change director Clarise McCants branded the scheme “absolutely inhumane.”
She called for “big change so that people are actually treated fairly” — and for prisoners to be able to make a living once released.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.