The folks who run Camden County, Georgia are weighing a hot new proposal in the reemerging market of slave labor: Inmates as firefighters! Get it? You get the inmates to put out the fires, and then you don't have to pay firefighters. What's not to like about this depressing tale from the age of austerity?

The program, which proponents believe would save the county $500,000, "would put two inmates in each of three existing firehouses, and they would respond to all emergencies - including residential - alongside traditional firefighters," according to the Florida Times-Union. "The inmates would have no guard, but would be monitored by a surveillance system and by the traditional firefighters, who would undergo training to guard the inmates." There are the other magical parts: You can combine the jobs of "traditional firefighters" and prison guards, while awarding a nice surveillance system contract to your buddies at the security company down the street.

This wouldn't be the first appearance of inmate firefighters. In California, another broke state with a thriving prison-industrial complex, "there are more than 4,000 firefighting inmates stationed at 45 camps throughout the state." Although they mostly help with wildfires and huge emergency things like that — not your daily cat-in-the-tree stuff, except to sell drugs to the cats.

[Image via AP]