Liberalism is a Mental Disorder
(NBC News) - California officials are considering allowing inmates with violent backgrounds to work outside prison walls fighting wildfires, and the idea is generating concerns about public safety.
The state has the nation's largest and oldest inmate firefighting unit, with about 3,800 members who provide critical assistance to professional firefighters. That's down from about 4,400 in previous years, however, and so prison officials are looking for ways to add inmates.
Now, only minimum-security inmates with no history of violent crimes can participate. Starting next year, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is proposing adding inmates convicted of violent offenses such as assaults and robberies, if their security classification level has been reduced after years of good behavior.
The changes are pending final approval within the Corrections Department.
The proposal comes at a time when the overall prison population is smaller and drought has created the potential for explosive wildfires like the ones that recently roared through the Sierra foothills and communities north of Napa, in northern California.
Mike Lopez, president of the union representing state firefighters who oversee inmates at fire scenes, supports a robust inmate program but worries about what the proposed changes could bring.
"Any acceptance of criminals with a violent background calls into question the security of our membership," he said, adding, "at what risk is CalFire willing to go to get those inmates?"Read More . . . .