California’s reliance on prison labor to fight wildfires combined with its failure to contain the coronavirus within its prison system has left the state short-handed in the face of what is expected to be among the most extreme fire seasons in years. For decades California has paid incarcerated people a meager $5.12 per day to fight wildfires. A state official told Gizmodo “expedited releases, and sentencing reform changes” were to blame for the shortages, but 12 of the the state’s 43 inmate fire camps were placed in lockdown earlier this month after infected individuals were transferred from San Quentin to a previously COVID-free prison in Lassen County. Crews of imprisoned people are among the first to arrive at fires in California, and typically do the critically important and particularly dangerous job of using chainsaws and hand tools to cut firelines around properties and neighborhoods during wildfires, and many of those jailed people who help fight wildfires are barred from working for many city and county firefighting agencies because California state law prohibits anyone with a felony conviction from obtaining an EMT certification. (Gizmodo, Sacramento Bee, Climate Signals background: Wildfires)