The Phoenix Crew - Arizona's First Post Release Crew
The Phoenix Crew is the newest addition to the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management wildland fire programs and is the state's first post release wildland firefighting crew. During Governor Doug Ducey's State of the State in January 2017, he proposed to reduce the state's recidivism rates by allocating $1.5 million to State Forestry to build a wildland firefighting crew with former inmates.
The 20-member crew is comprised of 17 former inmates, some of whom were released weeks before the crew's December 2017 start date. Crew members have previous wildland firefighting experience and some of the Phoenix Crew firefighters worked on State Forestry's inmate wildland firefighting crews while serving their time.
The Type 2 Hand Crew will be full time and work on fuels mitigation projects across Arizona to help with State Forestry's goal of reducing the threat of disastrous wildfires across the state. During fire season, the crew will serve as a wildland firefighting team in Arizona and deploy to other states, as needed.
Governor's Ducey's funding allows State Forestry to fund the crew and provide crew members with the necessary training and equipment needed to work as a wildland firefighter. Most importantly, the crew gives former inmates a second chance and provides them with a routine and stability that will allow them to re-enter society as productive citizens.
"Our anti-recidivism strategy is a win-win for everyone involved, including hardworking Arizona taxpayers. After all, it's expensive to house inmates - and, according to the data, 39 percent of inmates released from prison will eventually return to prison. That's a big bill to pay in the long term," said Governor Doug Ducey in an article for the Arizona Daily Star.