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Democracy Now! is a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. Pioneering the largest public media collaboration in the U.S., Democracy Now! is broadcast on Pacifica, NPR, community, and college radio stations;

Democracy Now!’s War and Peace Report provides our audience with access to people and perspectives rarely heard in the U.S.corporate-sponsored media, including independent and international journalists, ordinary people from around the world who are directly affected by U.S. foreign policy, grassroots leaders and peace activists, artists, academics and independent analysts. In addition, Democracy Now! hosts real debates–debates between people who substantially disagree, such as between the White House or the Pentagon spokespeople on the one hand, and grassroots activists on the other.

5 hours ago

Democracy Now!

Romarilyn Ralston, who experienced 23 years of incarceration, says women prisoners battling wildfires in California are paid as little as one dollar a day. Full story: ow.ly/rEUi30fXW6H See MoreSee Less

Women prisoners fighting CA wildfires

 

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the ethics of using prisoners in life-threatening work is very questionable, particularly when the majority of inmates are racial minorities, incarcerated by a racist justice system.

As a former firefighter I can tell you that these programs are great. Inmates get out in half the time by volunteering for an inmate hand crew. If they have a two year sentence they will get out in a year being on a crew. It is hard and sometimes dangerous work, but just ask one of them and they will tell you the rewards are worth the risks, and most are very glad for the opportunity. They learn valuable life skills, hard work, discipline, teamwork and even have a bit of money when they get out. They get out in nature, get physically fit, and are fed and trained well. Some even get jobs in fire and forestry when they get out. The best Cal Fire Captain I ever worked with started out as an inmate on a hand crew. People commenting that it’s slavery don’t have a clue what they are talking about. This is a vital and rewarding public service that helps the individuals as well as the greater community at large.

I wonder home many people in this thread are aware that the majority of firefighters in this country are VOLUNTEERS? Law abiding citizens working a job while serving their communities for free. No one is housing, feeding, clothing, and providing medical care for them, they spend their earned income from their primary employer, and still do this risky job, for free. The point needs to be made that the pay for inmates is as low as it is because all other living costs for them are already being PAID FOR BY TAX PAYERS! Apparently, cities and counties can’t afford to have paid fire depts. but you want them to raise funds to pay criminals more?!

They are volunteering to fight fires (a very noble job, and noble offering of themselves) they’re not being forced into it. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteer firefighters strewn about the United States. They do probably get benefits of some sort from the city/state/county that they’re working under, but they’re still unpaid. Slightly off subject but not really: The prison systems in the U.S. need to have better programs in line for rehabilitation in addition to education, as well as providing proper healthcare, if they actually gave a shit. But, being privatised, I reckon they don’t. Money talks in the U.S. of A., and so she shall crumble.

I’ve worked in California prison system – in comparison — It is a very good program
helps build self Efficacy — learn working as a team — and new positive values — also helps getting paroled— many on the team feels it’s a way to give back

I can’t understand why Democracy Now – with its resources – keeps adamantly *refusing* to have anyone on the show who has been part this program.

Inmates are drastically underpaid for these jobs, and there is no excuse to paying them less than minimum wage. Period.

However, there are reasons inmates seek these jobs and we should be hearing from those who have done it – not self-appointed advocates assuming a right to speak on their behalf.

just remeber most folk do crimes also. just not get cought. so let my people take a close look at your life to be sure you not a criminal aslo bashing others and support slave labor.

Prisoners sign up to volunteer to fight fires.
Unless they’re being forced, coerced to do so, they DO have a choice, do they not?

Are they paid $1 per day or do they net $1 per day?

Some (not all) inmates are ordered to pay restitution to their victims and the court can also assess a fine for the criminal conviction. If an inmate owes fines/restitution then don’t those get paid down before the inmate gets a check?

Also, if an inmate has children and those children are on public assistance or a child support order then those debts get paid up too?

I know a dollar a day seems like exploitation. At the same time why hire rank and file people when imates can be hired for next to no cost?

What really sucks is they acquire this skill, then when released many can’t work as firefighters because of their criminal conviction.

The prisoner men are also paid a dollar a day. Gender/pay equality in effect within the prison system, ironically.

It’s interesting how the $1 is triggering people. What if there was no compensation at all? Would it be as upsetting to hear that inmates are offered a volunteer opportunity to reduce their sentence during natural disasters? I don’t think it’s about the money. It’s about having a choice to give back to society in order to get back into society.

So slavery is still permitted in the United States. As I understand it, Mexicans can come over the border and be paid slave wages, but if they ask for more-they are sent home. And prisoners are paid next to nothing for the privilege of working for the scum of the earth that make this arrangement. Canada needs to build a wall.

They’re volunteers, they don’t have to be out there fighting the fires. They can choose to stay in the prison. Getting outside work is a privilege and again they are not coerced into it.

The part of this story that is missing:
As an incarcerated person, the amount that you would get paid if you weren’t in jail is going back to your state’s department of corrections to pay for your room and board.
If you weren’t in jail, you would have a job and paying rent, utilities and groceries.
You’re expecting tax payers to pay for your crime, you’re expecting free room and board.

Exploitation of prison labor, they should get paid equally and have a bank account for when they get-out.

Prison is neoslavery. They start the pipeline in the schools and they pay young black kids to make criminal lifestyle and prison culture look glamorous. Nothing to see here folks.

Key word! Prisoners. It is called paying your debt to society. But I am all for knocking time off the sentences

My gut reaction is, a prisoner who has been convicted of a crime, of doing some harm to society should always have ways to pay back to society in a way that benefits both the prisoner and society and/or restitution to any victims of the crime. So, of course the person is not going to earn the same amount of money as anyone who is not in prison. That is absurd. They are already getting fed, medical, shelter, clothing, even entertainment. They volunteer for this. It provides skills, some people in prison never learned a viable skill. It provides a means to pay back something positive. In addition it reduces the time someone is incarcerated, I really see only one negative, that there are not more programs like this.

whats the complaint the pay? or the job? prisoners wanna get outside to open air unprisoned so its a win win, save the taxpayers some money not having enough firefighters PERIOD

They should be happy to be outside and helping with saving people. It’s that selfishness that got them in trouble in the first place

They should be busting rocks 7 days a week.. When they rob, kill and any other crimes they have no rights. Don’t whine don’t commit crimes.

I would like to know how much the state is paying the private prison complex to supply all those labourers.

great program… maybe to spend more time with your kids try NOT BREAKING THE LAW…i hear it works pretty well.

Well it is better than nothing. It lessons your sentence time and you get money for the commonsary.

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