b. 1979 A San Francisco native, I have worked on social documentary projects across the Americas focusing on cultural identity, social inequality, violence, workers rights and the environment. My 2-year project, Downstream, Death of the...
Although weights have been banned across the California prison system, a special allowance is made for inmate firefighters to have proper gymnasium equipment, as firefighting demands an extremely high level of physical fitness.
Although there is a high level of cooperation amongst different ethnic groups when on the fire line when working as part of a team, some facilities at the prison itself, such as this "latino tv room" remain segregated in order to avoid racial tensions or violence.
A percentage of inmates must remain dressed, ready and on-call for fires at all times, throughout the day as they can be called on at any time by Cal Fire to assist on anything from a fire to a medical emergency.
The Antelope fire crew marches into action in Sonoma, CA during the wine country fires that devastated the region. Much of an inmate fire crew's work is done by cutting lines into burning brush with power tools so that water lines can then be brought in to put out fire.
30-40% of California's forest fire fighters are state prison inmates, with roughly 4,000 felons on the front lines of active fires across the state. The inmate fire fighter camps have their origins in the prisoner roadwork camps that built many of the roads across remote parts of the state into the early 1900's.