(20 Total References)
CCi charges $4,500 a day per ...
CCi charges $4,500 a day per crew, which is close to half the usual $8,000-$10,000 daily cost of a federal firefighting crew, stated Jack Laughlin, CCi Services Division Manager who oversees the fire team.
They get $6 a day fire pay," Laughlin
Inmates also earn an extra day of good time for everyday they fight a fire, so the work can help shorten their sentences.
Some of our inmates go on to work in the field after release.
One Buena Vista inmate was released to Durango, CO where he
attended college and worked as a seasonal firefighter.
is a smoke jumper and a pretty outstanding young man.
took advantage of the program and proved that if you are open to it and receptive to the positive environment, the feel-good impact goes well beyond the job skills," Laughlin
To Jack Laughlin, CCi Services Division Manager
For further information about CCi's SWIFT or Trails/Timber programs, please contact Jack Laughlin at 719-440-2234 or visit our website www.coloradoci.com.
Jack S. Laughlin, Colorado Correctional Industries, Services Sector Manager
CCi Service Manager Jack ...
CCi Service Manager Jack Laughlin was tasked with launching the program in 2001.
"We started the program in partnership with the Colorado State Forest Service and made ourselves available via the Interagency Dispatch system which manages firefighting resources throughout the region," Laughlin
According to Laughlin
receives close to 300 applicants or inquiries annually for less than 100 openings and the process is very thorough.
Offenders fill out an application, which is either available via someone in the program or via the offenders' case manager.
team then review the applications and if the candidate is acceptable a fitness test and interview are scheduled.
"We take applications throughout the year, but we attempt to limit our training to once annually in February," said Laughlin
"Participation in this program is a privilege and the offenders are typically respectful of the opportunity that is provided for them," Laughlin
"They are often provided with a life experience that is both rewarding and life-altering.
There are not many jobs in this world, especially inmate jobs, that provide the kind of satisfaction and positive reinforcement that this work provides."
According to Laughlin
, over 30 of the 600 offenders that have participated in the program have pursued the field after their release.
While not all of them have become firefighters, many have obtained jobs in forestry management.
The public benefits from this program as well since the SWIFT crews do not rely on taxpayer money for compensation.
Instead, they generate their own income by charging for their services to pay for equipment, supplies, vehicles, tools, etc. T hey also rely on fees charged to state, local and federal agencies such as the U.S.
Forest Service, the Bureau
of Land Management and non-profit organizations who contract with CCi
for firefighting services.
charges less than half the cost of a typical federal firefighting crew, Laughlin
says the program has saved state taxpayers over $3 million during the past decade due to their lower costs and the "good time" offenders earn by participating in the program.
"This is a great program that instills a positive self-image in men that have not had much success in that area," Laughlin
"It provides a valuable service to the citizens of Colorado and has saved those taxpayers millions of dollars."
continued, "The earned time does not go above the maximum that they can earn, but it allows the offender to reach that time much faster.
In addition, because they have demonstrated that they can work and act appropriately back in society they are more likely to be viewed favorably by the Parole Board and Community Corrections Boards when they are eligible to apply."
While some might be wary of inmates being front and center in dangerous situations, Laughlin
crews have been earning nothing but praise.
According to Laughlin
, this praise is well-deserved.
"We have a workforce that is motivated, readily available and geographically spread throughout the state to respond in areas that may not have any other hand crews available," he
"Not only is this a viable trade, but the offenders receive college credit for their training and if they choose can enroll in an apprenticeship program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor
"Most importantly, this program - similar to all CCi programs - teaches the value of a work ethic, the merits of positive behavior and how to work within a team that has a common goal."
For more information visit www.colo radoci.com or contact Jack Laughlin at jack .firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-269-4539.
The program is authorized by state statute, Jack Laughlin, service division manager for Colorado Correctional Industries, said.
"It's to create a pool of inmates to respond to disasters, including firefighting," he said.
Hundreds of inmates apply for the crews, but Laughlin said only 22-24 are "retained" on a crew.
Locally, use of the Buena Vista crew has been requested by the Chaffee County Fire Protection District.
The district received a grant to bring a tub grinder to the county later this year to grind slash piles generated by wildfire mitigation projects.
said the Buena Vista crew will help thin fuels on public and private land.
To be eligible for the crew, inmates must be non-violent offenders and cannot be sex offenders.
They must be minimum or restrictive minimum security.
Crew members must have a high school diploma or a GED, be "report-free" for six months, meaning they have not received disciplinary action, and must waive their parole or community placement until the end of the fire season.
"If we're hiring (a crew) we don't want guys going out and having to re-train," Laughlin
Inmate crews receive Red Card wildland fire training _ the same training all wildland firefighters complete.
The inmate fire crew program is a self-sufficient program, not funded by taxpayers.
Therefore, people using the crews must pay for the help, but Laughlin
said the price is less than for similar commercial crews.
For the inmates, being a part of the fire crew can be good experience and is a way to earn "more" money than a typical inmate.
"It pays better than most programs," Laughlin
"They can earn up to $6 a day on a fire.
Normal pay for an inmate is 60 cents a day."
Most inmates on the crews don't have any previous firefighting experience, although most have some kind of knowledge that helps with mitigation, such as knowing how to use a chainsaw.
"By and large, they have no experience with fire, but they're eager to learn," Laughlin
"They know post-release there is some opportunity (in the field)."
said use of the crew depends on things such as the season and fire conditions.
"Our first crew, two years ago, did about 65 days out," Laughlin
"Once the local firefighting community found out about this program, they're very excited about having this crew here," Laughlin
"When it first started, to me it sounded like a government boondoggle that was pretty far out of the box for corrections," admitted Jack Laughlin, a Correctional Industries manager who heads the program.
"I figured it would last a few months and then fizzle out."
The first inmate fire crew hit the ground running in the summer of 2002, working out of the Youth Offender System in Pueblo during Colorado's worst fire season ever.
The inmate's reputation for top-notch firefighting has helped the program grow to the point where this summer there are three crews of 20-plus inmates each fighting fires out of Canon City, Buena Vista and Rifle
"The staff got really excited and the inmates are thrilled to be out there because it is a culture change for them.
They quit being inmates and start being firefighters," Laughlin
These guys will be out anywhere up to 16 days and when you go four or five days without a shower and sleep on the ground it is very difficult," Laughlin
Statute requires the inmates be minimum or minimum-restrictive security inmates.
Sex offenders or inmates guilty of violent crimes are not accepted.
Each inmate is required to have a high school or GED level education, be physically fit and have gone six months without a disciplinary problem.
"We want that work.
Physically demanding, labor intensive work meets exactly what our goal is," Laughlin
At $3,000 a day, we cost about half as much as a private crew," Laughlin
Although inmate firefighting crews are fairly common throughout the Western United States, the Colorado program is one of the few that operates without taxpayer support.
"It has to be self-sufficient.
It will never be a huge money-maker, but it is self-supporting and we have been able to grow by two crews in two years," Laughlin
is thrilled that after 53 days on assignment last summer, the inmate fire crews saved the state more than $100,000 in firefighting costs.
For each day an inmate works on a fire, he
is earning day-per-day credit, which shortens sentences and knocks an additional $100,000 off the cost required to feed and house the inmates.
We've gotten good or excellent ratings on every fire we've ever been on," Laughlin
We had 22 guys leave the program in Rifle last year - 16 were paroled or given community placement," Laughlin
Several have gone on to work on fire mitigation projects, one even got hired by a private wildland fire company.
The fire crews don't just work fires, they have found year-round employment in fire mitigation work doing things like forest thinning, chipping of downed wood, even tree planting.
Locally, they have done fire mitigation work at Pueblo Mountain Park
and also are working on bits and pieces of the Front Range Fuel Treatment program for the Colorado State Forest Service
"Our inmates interact and work in a tough environment extremely well," Laughlin
"We're proud of them."
They also share in other incentives that are awarded based upon their training level and the amount of work completed in any given month, according to Jack Laughlin, Service Manager with CCI.
Asked about the number of offenders who went on to work in the field after being released, Laughlin
said, "We have received information on over 30 offenders that have done either fire fighting or fuels work."
When asked about recidivism rates he
told us, "Offenders that have participated in this program must waive placement into either parole or community corrections for at least one fire season.
says that they've had over 600 offenders participate in the program, including this year's participants, and over 100 additional offenders have participated in their TRAIL program that builds trails and conducts fuel reduction projects.
Though it is too early to tell what impact the program will have on recidivism rates, said Jack Laughlin, a service sector manager for Correctional Industries, only two of the original 28 SWIFT participants from Canon City have been sentenced back to the facility.
CCI charges $3,000 a day for a fire, which " is significantly less than similarly sized and equipped and typed crews," said Jack Laughlin, service division manager for CCI.
"No jerks," Laughlin
"It's essentially a business run inside the walls of the prison," said Jack Laughlin of Colorado Correctional Industries, who oversees all three inmate crews.
Providing firefighters more cheaply, Laughlin
argued, saves taxpayer money - about $100,000 in the 2002 fiscal year when compared with an equivalent U.S.
Forest Service crew.
The inmates are also rewarded by having a day taken off their sentence for every day they're on the fire line.
Because the inmates serve shorter sentences, Laughlin
said, taxpayers pay less to keep them behind bars, a cost that Laughlin
also estimates at $100,000 during fiscal 2002.
felony record will make that difficult but not impossible, Laughlin
receives about 200 qualified applications from across the state each year and this year chose only 75.
Prisoners can apply from any facility and are transferred to a crew's home prison if accepted.
"Still, a lot of people don't know how selective we are, and sometimes they're wary," Laughlin
Jack Laughlin, who administers the inmate program, but serves as a firefighter when it is deployed, said the blaze was erratic on Thursday as crews tried to scratch out fire lines in the heavy underbrush along the steephillsides in Babcock Hole.
"There is a lot of fuel, underbrush and scrub oak out there that is burning very hot," he
P.O. Box 1600, Canon Complex
Canon City, CO 81215-1600
Phone: (719) 269-4539
Phone (cell): (719) 440-2234