Letter: They Deserve More

Letter to the Editor

Shawna Lynn Jones was a member of the “prestigious” fire brigade at the Encinal Canyon prison camp. The prison fire crewmembers are, for all practical purposes, professional firefighters providing free or very cheap labor for many work projects throughout the Malibu community. It is tremendously difficult to qualify for the brigade’s coveted positions.

Malibu is one of the wealthiest communities in the United States, and also one of the most fire-prone. Every article I have read about Jones’ death while fighting a Malibu wildfire mentions that she was volunteering. Shame on our community for not compensating those who risk their lives to confront fires and save homes and lives.

When I wrote on the Nextdoor Point Dume blog about honoring Jones and other prison inmates’ service by donating a big screen television to the camp’s recreation room in her name, a neighbor replied, “honor her service, don’t use it.” Another neighbor wrote, “Perhaps we could separate the political issues from the loss of life.” I disagree.    

With politics in America reduced to people like Donald Trump running for president, legalized torture, bailing out the fraudsters on Wall Street and the big banks, spending billions of dollars for weapons of mass destruction and a prison complex of inmates “volunteering” to fight fires in our community, a pay off of reduced sentences is not enough. They deserve much more.

As a spiritual person, I am more concerned with human rights. Most inmates are poor and unable to afford a lawyer to help them through the court system, so they are sentenced to prison, hidden from society and put to work.

Now is the time for our community to shine a spotlight on Malibu Conservation Camp #13 and prison labor.  

If you want to make a donation to benefit Jones’ family like I did, please go to the Fire Family Foundation. If you want to show concern for others in the same position as her and make sure that they are monetarily compensated, hold our community responsible.

 Valerie Sklarevsky