Calif. turns felons into firefighters to stop Yosemite blaze

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YOSEMITE VILLAGE, Calif.- They are battling the same blaze in Yosemite National Park but the men on the front lines are not your ordinary firefighters.

More than 650 of them have something most firefighter don’t have, a prison identification number.

Convicts are taken from jails and put on the front lines where they earn some money while keeping the fire from spreading.

They work 24 hour shifts and work alongside other firefighters.

California’s Conservation Camp Program is the oldest of its kind, dating back to 1946.

The applicants undergo training before the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection allows them to face the fire firsthand.

The program is only open to certain inmates who are serving between one and seven-year sentences.

They also cannot be convicted of arson, murder, kidnapping or a sexual offense.

This gives the inmates skills for when they are paroled and are expected to enter the work force.

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