Prisoner firefighters poisoned by Montecito mudslide – no forewarning


by Malcolme Morgan

I was recently transferred from San Quentin State Prison to Oak Glen Conservation Camp, which is one of several chain gang facilities or “fire camps” in the state of California. Incarcerated firefighters save bureaucrats in California millions of dollars every year by performing the various odd jobs that nobody else wants to do.

Even Cal Fire captains often admit that most average firefighters are not willing to carry out the tasks that inmate firefighters are burdened with, such as fighting raging fires with measly hand tools. Regular firefighters are certainly not willing to do the menial jobs that inmate crews routinely perform, such as cleaning up homeless encampments and picking up trash.

Before and during my firefighter training, I heard a number of firsthand stories about the wretched conditions in which inmate firefighters work, but now I have witnessed them with my own eyes.

Incarcerated firefighters save bureaucrats in California millions of dollars every year by performing the various odd jobs that nobody else wants to do.

On Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, two crews from Oak Glen Conservation Camp were sent to clean up the mudslides that wreaked havoc in the affluent neighborhoods of Montecito. Inmate crews were not forewarned of any hazards posed by the mud as they were deployed for one week.

The crews returned to Oak Glen on Friday, Jan. 19. Upon arrival, one crew member noticed an open wound that was swelling on his foot. He did not think much of it, since he was not alerted about any dangers associated with exposure to the mud. However, within a few days, this crewmember’s swollen wound turned into an abscess.

When the injured crewmember informed Oak Glen correctional officers about his swollen wound, he was taken to the hospital – in no rush – and informed that he had an infection due to his exposure to the contaminated mud. On Saturday, Jan. 27, soon after the injured inmate went to the hospital, Oak Glen Sgt. J. Lanthripp passed out a memorandum to both of the crews who responded to the mudslides.

Before and during my firefighter training, I heard a number of firsthand stories about the wretched conditions in which inmate firefighters work, but now I have witnessed them with my own eyes.

This memo explained to inmate firefighters the test results from the mud they had just spent one week trudging through. The test results were grim, showing traces of fecal bacteria, e. coli, gasoline and motor oil in the mud. Of course, the memos were only passed out to cover Oak Glen and CDCR against charges of negligence.

But in reality, the prisoners should have been advised of these dangers before being marched into the mud. This story is yet another example of the inhumane conditions that inmates must endure in this era of the new Jim Crow and neo-slavery.

The prisoners should have been advised of these dangers before being marched into the mud.

Send our brother some love and light: Malcolme Morgan, G-63825, Oak Glen CC #35, 41100 Pinebench Rd. Yucaipa CA 92399.

source: Prisoner firefighters poisoned by Montecito mudslide – no forewarning

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