Newsom’s early prisoner release leaves California vulnerable to fires

Insider.com:

The reduction of inmates available to serve in hand crews due to early release because of the coronavirus leaves Cal Fire vulnerable to deal with the extreme conditions with a limited number of inmate fire crews to draw from.

As more than 360 fires burn across the state of California, the coronavirus pandemic is creating a shortage of inmate fire crews to battle the wildfires. 

California has relied on incarcerated firefighters as its primary “hand crews” since the 1940s, and in the past few years, the number of inmate firefighters has grown to 3,500, nearly a fourth of the state’s 15,500 wildfire fighters, according to Cal Fire, the department overseeing the state’s forestry and fire protection. 

The reduction of inmates available to serve in hand crews due to early release because of the coronavirus leaves Cal Fire vulnerable to deal with the extreme conditions with a limited number of inmate fire crews to draw from. And the intensity of the wildfires combined with the public health fallout from the pandemic has put a strain on resources for California to address the extreme fires. 

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