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Crook and Ladder: Colbert On Firefighting Felons

Leading the world with the highest prison population, the U.S. has roughly 2.3 million inmates locked up—a quarter of the world’s prisoners, despite having only 5 percent of the global population.

Since the 1970s, the number of inmates in California has boomed 750 percent. And they’re making use of these numbers: for $2 a day, they fight the wildfires the state couldn’t otherwise afford to control. Voters passed a resolution, however, that would potentially release 10,000 state prisoners convicted for nonviolence. It’d be a hit for the state that saves more than $100 million a year on this program, but a possible solution for the overcrowding behind bars.

Stephen Colbert addressed this issue Tuesday night with the fan-favorite segment, “The Word.”