California has called on a plentiful resource — prisoners — to save the state's natural resources from devastating fires. About 2,500 prisoners are fighting the thousands of wild fires engulfing California. The convicted helping hands are not amateurs; California has maintained a prisoner firefighter training program for 60 years.
Serving fellow citizens during an emergency provides an unfamiliar role for former criminals, giving them an opportunity to help society rather than burden it. Taking their jobs seriously, few convicts have escaped during the course of the program. Those driving by pull over to say thank you, and one prisoner said: "Even though I have to wear these colors, I still feel important."
Firefighter training seems like a great way to pass on work skills to inmates, while giving them a tie to the community and a chance for respect — the lack of these things might have caused the crimes in the first place.