The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and San Diego County officials finalized a contract that will allow up to 100 county jail inmates to be assigned to state fire camps, state officials announced Friday.
The announcement comes on the 10th anniversary of the start of the Cedar Fire, the most destructive wildland blaze in state history. The fire killed 15 people and destroyed more than 2,200 homes before it was extinguished weeks later.
According to county officials, the state prison realignment plan that shifted the responsibility for some inmates to the county resulted in a shortage of low-level security state inmates at the four fire camps in San Diego County.
State officials said housing some of the county's offenders in state fire camps would not only bolster the state's firefighting force, but would also provide additional beds in the county's lockups.
"This agreement with San Diego County is a win for everyone," said California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Jeff Beard. "Housing county offenders in conservation camps will provide additional space to the county, contribute to the state's trained firefighting workforce, protect public safety and provide rehabilitation."
Under the contract that was finalized earlier this month, up to 100 county offenders will join about 4,000 other inmates in the state Conservation Camp program, which assigns low-level male and female offenders to assist with fire suppression and other emergencies, such as floods and earthquakes, according to state officials.
San Diego County will pay the state $46.19 per inmate per day, which covers housing and supervision costs, along with the costs of Cal Fire training, officials said.
-City News Service