Massachusetts Governor Revokes Plan to Shorten Inmate Sentences
Photo by Carles Rabada via Unsplash
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker revoked a plan to shorten the sentences of inmates in the state’s prison system for getting COVID-19 vaccinations, officials said Thursday.
Gov. Baker cancelled the plan shortly after Department of Correction Commissioner, Carole Mici, said in a memo that inmates could receive “earned good time” credit for getting the shot.
In the memo, which was released on Jan. 28, Mici claimed that 3,500 of the state’s prison inmates had already received the first round of the vaccination in a program as the “Vaccine Rehabilitative Program.”
“I have determined the vaccine is significantly valuable to rehabilitation,” Mici said.
In the Vaccine Rehabilitative Program, inmates could “Earn Good Time” credit, otherwise known as “EGT”.
“This will be the sole opportunity to earn EGT in this program category for the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mici wrote.
“While we are working to stifle this virus through ‘herd immunity,’ we are not there yet… We must remain vigilant by properly wearing masks, regularly hand washing/sanitizing and social distancing, as these practices continue to be our best defense.”
A spokesperson for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security contradicted the memo, according to ABC News.
“When the Governor’s office became aware of the memo, the decision was made to rescind it because the memo is not consistent with the Administration’s policies regarding reduced prison terms,” the spokesperson said in a statement.”
Studies have shown that the spread of COVID-19 in prisons occurs at a more severe rate.
According to an analysis by the UCLA School of Law’s COVID-19 Behind Bars Data Project and Johns Hopkins, COVID-19 infects American prison inmates at a rate more than five times higher than in the overall U.S. population.
One of the most well-known prisons in the California prison system, San Quentin, reportedly had 75% of its inmates infected, which resulted in a court order calling for prison officials to cut the prison population in half.
Some argue that those in prison should be a priority for the vaccination.
“It’s a very important group, because jails and prisons have repeatedly been a focus for outbreaks of infection, not only among inmates but among people who care for them,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.