Inmates serve well

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I am shocked and saddened by the fact that a group of local residents have thwarted any possible plans to locate “as many as 100 prison inmate firefighters” at the County owned Camp 8 on upper Rambla Pacifico Road. The so-called inmates are in fact citizens who were sentenced to serve time for such things as driving under the influence, drug possession, welfare fraud, identity theft, and burglary. These offenses, while not admirable, are non-violent. The inmates go through an intensive screening process prior to being assigned to the fire crew. The inmates obviously see an advantage to serving their time in an extremely useful fashion which benefits the public. Rather than kick back at a prison, these men and women chose to endure physically demanding training and provide valuable public protection against wildfires at their own peril. How can anyone in their right minds reject a plan to locate such a valuable public resource in close proximity to the lands and people they are charged with protecting?

Firefighters do more than battle wildfires, they also assist during the rainy season, and we are experiencing an extremely severe winter this year. Having a solid base of able-bodied firefighters in the community would only serve to benefit the people of Malibu. How can anyone be so blind to that fact? How many of those Rambla Pacifico residents who objected so vehemently to the County’s plan to populate Camp 8 with low-risk, non-violent prisoners are ready, willing, and able to step in and serve in the same capacity as those inmates? Not a one, I can confidently state.

The City of Malibu is one of the wealthiest (financially and resource wise) communities in our nation. Malibu also exists in a very precarious realm of the natural and urban interface. Our geology is unstable, we are surrounded by flammable vegetation, we are gifted with the wild Pacific coast, and all too frequently cut off from outside assistance during times of crisis. We expect public resources when we are suffering from natural disasters, yet selfishly guard access to natural resources. Can no one else see the disconnect here?

Kathryn Palmer