Georgia Cost-Saving Plan Adds Inmates to Firehouse Staffing

ST MARYS, Ga. (AP) — Officials in southeast Georgia are considering a money-saving program that would put inmates in fire stations. The Florida Times-Union reports (http://bit.ly/nZbutT) that the program would put two inmates in each of three existing firehouses in Camden County.

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Times are tough and many departments, career and volunteer, are having a hard time maintaining even minimum staffing. Is this Georgia plan even worth the risk when considering public image and public relations?

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This is not a moral issue of using 'slave labor' but rather an issue of using inmates to REPLACE paid fire departments (or replace them with 1 paid/3 inmates/shift/station/department.

Brian, you keep on talking about how great the program is, how it benefits communities that don't have or have poor fire protection.  But you haven't addressed the issue of what is going to happen when you offer communities a choice: Paid, which means they have to fund it themselves; Volunteer, which means they have to STAFF it themselves or; Inmates, which means they neither have to FUND it nor STAFF it

 

 

Absolutely correct, and yes, he's ducking your question about inmate/cops.

Actually, Jack, this is about both of those issues.

 

Inmate labor is in fact slave labor, since they are not paid and have no freedom to come and go as they wish.  Georgia has a long history of doing just that - look up "chain gangs".

Gregory, OK, so are you saying they shouldn’t be in jail? Where am I confused about slavery? If they do not like it or cannot abide by the rules they can leave. The program is voluntary; they have to prove themselves worthy of a chance to be considered to even try for a spot. Then they have to go through training and complete the training with the proper respect and attitude to be considered. Then they may get the chance to be placed into a station where they are monitored 24/ 7 more intense than being in prison; subject to drug test and shake downs, train 5 – days a week, be on call 24/7 and if we miss something  we can always count on people like you making sure everyone knows.   

Maybe you are not aware that there are felons already working as cops, FF, in the government, at your bank, all over the place. I addressed this issue several pages back. Weather you know it or not someone can be a felon plead no-low first offender or complete his sentence and have his record expunged and say they do not have a felony or how about should have been in jail but never got caught.

I have concerns about anybody in a position of public trust. But I’m not self-righteous enough to say I have lived or always live my life everyday like I should, if you can? I admire you for having that ability and you are a better man than I.  

There are different levels of felons so let’s dial your concerns in, but I think I have already agreed that there are some that should never see the light of day, might as well drag them out back and for a couple bucks save us all some trouble.(Lead poisoning is a terrible thing.)

So are you saying all of them should be treated the same way? Take some that could change with a little help and encouragement and put them in the same place as the scum? Is scum and felon the same in your book?    

Georgia has a rep for alot of things. Where do you live?

so based on what you are saying the members of the fire service that are volunteers are in fact slaves? No one is being held against their well, they are free to return to the prison system

 

So where do you come up with such idealogy? Big difference between a person who is NOT incarcerated to volunteer their time for their community rather than one "forced" to the community by nature of the prison. A volunteer can also choose the calls they wish to respond to, the training they can or wish to attend and so forth. A volunteer FF has the ability to come and go, typically has a job/occupation outside of the fire dept and responds when they are able....not forced.

 

The program you are touting is not a volunteer dept, but instead utilizing prison labor as a FT response. There is no freedom to choose calls to respond to, there is no freedom to miss training because of family obligations etc, there really is not other "job" the prisoners have except to serve their time. In fact the program is not volunteer at all except a different way the prisoner chooses to do their time. You are essentially utilizing these prisoners as FT FF's to staff 24/7 for emergency calls and not pay them.....how is that just volunteer?

 

If they do not like it or cannot abide by the rules they can leave

 

Seems to me if they abided by the "rules" in the first place, they wouldn't be in a position to "volunteer" for such a program because they are incarcerated. Funny how that little point just seems to be getting missed.

 

Maybe you are not aware that there are felons already working as cops, FF, in the government, at your bank, all over the place. Weather you know it or not someone can be a felon plead no-low first offender or complete his sentence and have his record expunged and say they do not have a felony or how about should have been in jail but never got caught.

 

And how many of these "felons" are working in such capacity WHILE still incarcerated and serving out their sentences? How many?

 

There is a HUGE difference in someone who has COMPLETED their sentence and thus given a second chance and one who is still SERVING their sentence and should not be utilized in such a capacity as public safety protective services.

 

Several pages back you also "addressed" the issue of basically accusing others of crimes etc, but just haven't been caught and further went on about trust issues and so forth. I also addressed such comments to which you didn't respond, when mentioning there is a huge difference between one who was caught and one who hasn't. One has shown to break the public trust, another hasn't done so. It doesn't mean someone isn't capable, but there is a difference between a person in prison and one who isn't. Besides there are many FF's in the country who haven't done something wrong who should be considered above cheap, felon labor.

 

So are you saying all of them should be treated the same way? Take some that could change with a little help and encouragement and put them in the same place as the scum?

 

 

I doubt Greg is saying this, and I already addressed this to, but seems to bear repeating. There is a big difference in giving a chance, encouragement, etc, but let's not forget the fact these people are in prison for a reason. There is no reason that they should be put in positions as FF's when they can pay their debt off to society without degrading the fire service along the way.

Brian, You are throwing sand in my eyes to change the subject. You know we are not talking about people that have not been caught. That is a smoke screen on your part. Please answer this question in an honest and forthright manner. Do you have inmates similar to those you use as firefighters working as cops? If no why not?

John, do you honest read what you are writing? You just plead the prefect case for their use.

From a management stand point what’s wrong and don’t forget they are never late.

Point not missed, at least if you mess up you may just get suspended or demoted. These guys go back inside. It teaches structure something many people are lacking.

How huge? So you’re saying as long as they set around on their ass the whole sentence it makes things better?  

Now you are saying as long as you are not caught it’s ok and if you do get caught then you have broken the public trust.  

How have they degraded the fire service? They are giving an opportunity to prove something to themselves and the public you say they have deceived. Under a more intense sentence than if they stayed inside the prison system.

I’m not dodging anything. I am a FF, I work with FD. I have talked to law enforcement and some say they have used felons in LE and have talked to some that said they were felons and as far as I know they have paid felons it’s called an informant.

Now I believe what you are saying is using them to patrol. I can’t say, not my job.   

Puhleeze.  Criminal paid snitches are not police officers by any stretch of the imagination.

 

If you can't say if felons should be police officers or not, frankly you don't appear to be qualified to say if felons should be firefighters or not, either.

You are still missing (or maybe intentionally ducking) several of the main points.

 

1) Prisoner labor meets the definition of slave labor.  Slave labor is completely unethical in the fire service, even if the prisoners want to be firefighters.  It's the entire concept that is flawed, not just the prisoners' opinions right this minute.

 

2) More importantly, structural firefighting demands complete public trust from everyone that does it.  Felons have already proven that they are not worthy of that public trust.  It makes absolutely no sense to have criminal background checks for firefighters (career or volunteer) then let convicts work in the same station with those firefighters.

 

3) The fire service isn't a jobs program or a criminal rehabilitation program.  If there is some other kind of work release program that puts convicts supervised by law enforcement officers in some kind of job training program, fine.  Firefighting isn't the place to do it.

 

4) Fortunately, I work in a state where using prisoners as structural firefighters is illegal.  You see, EVERY firefighter in my state must pass a criminal background check prior to being certified as a firefighter.  Felonies and moral turpitude misdemeanors on your record - no firefighting for you. 

 

5) There are some prisoner hot shot crews that fight wildland fires, and I'm OK with that, as the situation is different.  It's going to be difficult for a prison hot shot crew to steal some trees or to burglarize a ravine while they're fighting a fire in the woods.  You can't say the same about them if they were fighting a fire in someone's home or business.

 

Once again, you sound as if you have a vested financial interest in this program.  Do you?

Brian,

What incentive is there for ANY community to fund or staff a fire department on their own when they can buy into your program and use prisoners in place of paid firefighters and get FREE fire protection. In this case the community doesn't have to buy or rent the cow, they get it for free and its milk

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