The mounting demand for inmate firefighters in response to increased disaster relief has made such individuals an indispensable resource to the State of California. As a result, state agencies in charge of administering inmate firefighters’ services must give renewed attention to expanding efforts to protect the inmates’ livelihood both before and after a participating inmate’s release. This Comment provides an overview of California inmates undertaking prison labor as volunteer firefighters under the Conservation Camp Program. The Comment further critiques the nonreciprocal approach taken towards inmate firefighting resources, while advocating for a more intentional rehabilitationist approach that implores the California Department of Corrections and its partnering agencies to prevent inmate firefighter training from atrophying upon release. In light of federal court holdings in Chacon, Davenport, and Hillensbeck regarding the status and protection of certain fringe “public safety officers,” this Comment argues that that the function of securing certain benefits for inmate firefighters not only has the immediate impact of compensating their families for the unique service of a fallen inmate firefighter, but also serves to establish normalcy and “professionalism” for their success following release from incarceration.
Zachary T. Remijas,
A Burning Question: Sparking Federal Protection of Inmate Firefighters through California’s Conservation Camp Program,
41 J. Nat’l Ass’n Admin. L. Judiciary
Available at: https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/naalj/vol41/iss1/5