About 864 inmates are at work:
- >Sandbagging tributaries of the Sacramento and Trinity rivers;
- Cooking for evacuees and rescue workers at the emergency shelters at Colusa fairgrounds, Yuba and Marysville Community Colleges;
- Filling and loading sandbags in 12 counties; and
- Providing assistance to other agencies where needed.
The inmates are normally assigned to the conservation camps, or minimum security prisons, located in rural areas. The camps house almost 4,000 inmates.
Inmates serve their sentences at conservation camps after passing a highly selective screening process and rigorous training. A typical inmate was convicted of a nonviolent offense, has an average sentence of two years and will spend about eight months in camp before parole.
When not fighting floods, inmates are dispatched to other emergencies and non-emergencies including fires, earthquakes, wildlife habitat preservation and graffiti removal.
It is estimated that by using inmates state and local governments save millions of dollars each year that otherwise would be paid to accomplish the work inmates perform.