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Inmate realignment to Affect Fire Camps

A group of Sheriff’s including Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal met with the Deputy Director of Cal Fire in Sacramento yesterday (Thursday) regarding that prisoner realignment and the future of inmate fire camps. Low risk inmates are used to man fire camps, such as Washington Ridge in Nevada County, and those inmate firefighters are an integral part of Cal Fires arsenal during fire season. Sheriff Royal says with realignment, many of the prisoners sent to those camps will now be going to county jails, which may leave more serious offenders to fill the gap.

“So what it leaves us in a position is the department of correction trying to send more serious offenders that would remain in the system to these camps. And again, these would be the sex offenders, the more serious criminals, the violent offenders. Are they going to go to this camp and perform that function?”

The Sheriff says another option being discussed is for the counties, where possible taking over operation of the fire camps.

“We’d like to propose to the governor and to the agency secretary to the Department of Corrections is the possibility that maybe we reverse contract from the standpoint that we compete against CDCR to see who can run those camps cheaper.”

The Sheriff says local deputies are paid less than what some of the correctional officers that work for the state are paid. And he believes that a local contract could save the state money.  Those discussions are going to be ongoing and in the mean time through the end of the year those camps do have inmates that will be staffing them so communities do have resources to address any fires that do occur.

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