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Oregon Inmates Helped Fight Wildfires In 2013

Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Forestry

Hot-shot crews and volunteers weren’t the only ones fighting fires in Oregon this year. More than 800 inmates from the state’s correctional institutions worked side-by-side combating blazes.

The State Department of Corrections and the Oregon Department of Forestry have teamed up since 1951 to fight wildfires. Inmates go through the same nationally certified training course as civilians do. DOC Communications Manager Elizabeth Craig says the program benefits both the forests and the inmates.

Craig- “And we hear time and again from the inmates who participate that they really have a sense of pride in the work that they are doing. And so not only are we saving the state millions of dollars by participating in this partnership, we’re also giving inmates a chance to give back to the community and to develop skills that they can hopefully take with them when they leave.”

Craig says inmates who participate are usually close to being released, and low level offenders. All go through a screening process. On the Douglas Complex fires, which burned near Roseburg this summer, the use of inmates saved Oregon an estimated 1.2 million in firefighting costs.

copyright, 2013 KLCC