55 non-violent offenders help battle wildfires

Created: 07/24/2014 9:54 PM
By: Danielle Todesco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

When wildfires pop up across New Mexico, it can be taxing on the State's resources.  But there is a program that uses an unconventional resource to get the job done: inmates.

New Mexico currently uses about 55 non-violent offenders who have just about a year or two left on their prison sentence.  State Forestry officials team up with the Department of Corrections to give the inmates training on fighting wildfires and land management.

KOB Eyewitness News 4 followed the inmates as they cleaned up trails in the Jemez.  The inmates all say it's a great way for them to transition into society by learning a new skill.

"If we take that opportunity and run with it, this can be a good thing.  This can be a real good thing, it gives you something to do when you get out other than what we were doing.  It gives you a plan," inmate Brian Herring said.

The program started back in 1997.  The State hopes to eventually have about 70 inmates working on projects across the state.

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