Video: California prisoners serve time by fighting wildfires
A minimum-security inmate walked away from a state prison fire camp early Monday morning in a Los Angeles County neighborhood, making him the third inmate to walk away from one of the camps this year, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Fernando Deras, 31, who was serving a four-year sentence for corporal injury to a person, walked away from Holton Fire Camp in Sylmar at about 1:25 a.m., according to a Monday news release.
Prison officials discovered Deras was missing during a routine inmate count and started searching for him, according to the release. CDCR’s Office of Correctional Safety, the California Highway Patrol and local law enforcement are searching for the 5-foot-9, 210-pound man with brown eyes and a shaved head, the release states.
California augments its summer firefighting forces with prison inmates, who build fire breaks among other jobs. Inmates train to fight fires and respond to other disasters at the camps, where they are supervised by a mix of correctional and firefighting staff.
Serving at the camps reduces inmate sentences by two days for every day of service. During wildland fire seasons, up to about 3,900 inmates can be housed at 44 of the camps around the state, most of which operate in conjunction with Cal Fire.
On April 11, inmate Jon Nicholas was found dead near a campground outside Los Angeles after walking away from Fenner Canyon Conservation Camp April 2, according to CDCR. Nicholas had been serving a five-year sentence for grand theft auto and assault with a deadly weapon.
On March 1, law enforcement officials found Joseph Speakman, an inmate who had escaped from Mount Bullion Conservation Camp in Mariposa County three days earlier, hiding in an empty cabin three miles from the camp. Speakman had been serving a four-year sentence for vehicle theft.