2020-08-25 14:13:45

Wildfires Reveal California's Reliance on Incarcerated Firefighters

As climate-fueled wildfires engulf California, tens of thousands of firefighters have been deployed across the state to combat the blazes amid a record heatwave and deadly pandemic.

Democracy Now! looks at how more than 1,300 incarcerated firefighters — who are annually deployed to the frontlines in California for just $1 an hour — are fighting back the blazes as coronavirus outbreaks in state prisons limit how many are available to fight the fires, and lay bare the state's reliance on prison labor to control its ever-growing wildfire season with an exploitative system many have called slave labor.

"What they're not saying is we lack the incarcerated firefighters … [who] make up the backbone of the firefighting department," says Rasheed Lockheart, who was a firefighter at San Quentin State Prison until his release in January.

Democracy Now! produces a daily, global, independent news hour hosted by award-winning journalists Amy Goodman and Juan González. 

Our reporting includes breaking daily news headlines and in-depth interviews with people on the front lines of the world’s most pressing issues. 

On DN!, you’ll hear a diversity of voices speaking for themselves, providing a unique and sometimes provocative perspective on global events.

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Amy Goodman california Democracy Now! Free Speech TV heatwave Incarcerated Firefighters Rasheed Lockheart San Quentin State Prison Wildfires

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