Massachusetts Offers Inmates Prison Time Reduced If They Get the COVID Vaccine, Then Pulls the Offer
“I have determined that receiving the vaccine is significantly valuable to rehabilitation” — overruled by the Governor who has to face the voters
Days after Massachusetts prisoners were offered the possibility of reduced prison sentences for getting vaccinated, the Baker administration has taken that proposition off the table.
A spokesperson for the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security told MassLive the administration rescinded the offer after the governor’s office became aware of the memo because “the memo is not consistent with the administration’s policies regarding reduced prison terms.”
In a Jan. 28 memo, Department of Correction Commissioner Carol A. Mici offered up to 7.5 days of “earned good time” to prisoners who watch and read educational materials and get both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I have determined that receiving the vaccine is significantly valuable to rehabilitation,” Mici wrote in the memo, which was sent to prisoners.
Mici wrote that prisoners would have to submit a written attestation stating they met the requirements.
Under state statute, state prisoners can have their sentences reduced if they work in a state hospital or state school, complete an educational program that leads to a high school certificate or show “satisfactory performance” in an educational or vocational training program. A prisoner would be able to get up to 7.5 days a month per program or activity, but no more than a combined total of 15 days a month.
Prisoners in a local house of correction can earn up to five days a month per program or activity, but no more than 10 days a month altogether in most cases.
Massachusetts prisons were among several congregate facilities placed in Phase 1 of the state’s vaccine rollout. The DOC started administering the first dose of the vaccine in mid-January. As of last week, more than 3,500 prisoners have gotten the first shot.
The DOC has aired videos about the vaccine on closed-circuit television in its prisons and has made it available for prisoners to download to their tablets. One of the informational videos is a recording of the discussion Dr. Anthony Fauci had with the Rev. Liz Walker and Dr. Gloria White Hammond at the Roxbury Presbyterian Church in November.
Gov. Charlie Baker’s office declined to discuss the reasoning behind rescinding the DOC’s offer to prisoners, referring a reporter to EOPSS.