According to court filings, lawyers for the state said California met benchmarks, and argued that if certain potential parolees were given a faster track out of prison, it would negatively impact the prison’s labor program including one that allowed certain inmates to work fighting California’s wildfires for about $2 a day.

“Extending 2-for-1 credits to all minimum custody inmates at this time would severely impact fire camp participation—a dangerous outcome while California is in the middle of a difficult fire season and severe drought,” lawyers for Harris wrote in the filing, noting that the fire camp program required physical fitness in addition to a level of clearance that allowed the felon to be offsite.

Not only that, they noted, draining the prisons of “minimum custody inmates” would deplete the labor force both internally and in local communities where low-level, non-violent offenders worked for pennies on the dollar collecting trash and tend to city parks. A federal three-judge panel ordered both sides to confer about the plaintiffs’ demands and the state agreed to extend the 2-for-1 credits to all eligible minimum security prisoners.