SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California officials are struggling to save a program that has 4,300 inmates fighting wildfires each year, the most of any state.
They say the program is crucial to fighting massive fires, but it's endangered by Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to shift responsibility for lower-level offenders from state prisons to county jails.
The governor proposed the shift to save money and comply with a federal court order to reduce prison crowding.
The same lower-level offenders who would be released or shifted to local jails are generally the ones who qualify for the fire camps.
Officials say the program won't be affected this year because the inmate shift has not yet been funded.
They say the program is even more vital because budget cuts have eliminated 730 seasonal firefighters this year.
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