It’s Hot Vax Summer — for jailbirds.
State jail officers are so determined to get inmates vaccinated against COVID-19 that they’re dangling care packages, barbecue events and even conjugal visits, in accordance to a memo issued this week to the practically 34,000 jailbirds.
A mere 45 p.c of New York’s incarcerated felons have been inoculated, in contrast to more than 70 percent of the law-abiding inhabitants, Acting Corrections and Community Supervision Commissioner Anthony Annucci wrote.
Meanwhile, “many other state prison populations have much higher vaccination rates,” Annucci lamented.
“To encourage you to do your part in this fight, the Department will implement an incentive program,” he wrote Wednesday.
The plan consists of randomly gifting 5 absolutely vaccinated inmates in every of the state’s 50 prisons care packages crammed with “the most popular food items sold at our assigned facility’s commissary, not to exceed a $75 value.”
“In addition, at the conclusion of this vaccination campaign, Central Office will award a facility barbecue to all vaccinated individuals at six facilities…for the highest percentage of individuals vaccinated,” Annucci wrote.
The cook-outs will likely be divided amongst prisons housing 399 or fewer inmates, 400 to 799 and more than 800 every, with two from every class getting the prize.
And if satisfying starvation isn’t sufficient, officers are additionally interesting to different, baser instincts.
“In addition to keeping yourself, your family, and your friends safe, one other benefit for getting the vaccine is that when the Department restarts the Family Reunification Program in September, it will be a pre-requisite for any participating incarcerated individual to be fully vaccinated,” Annucci wrote.
“Family reunification” is official jargon for conjugal visits that happen in trailers and usually final between two and three days.
To qualify, inmates have to be well-behaved and obtain approval from the commissioner’s workplace, in accordance to a supply accustomed to the method.
As of Thursday, 6,603 inmates and 5,175 jail staffers have been identified with COVID-19, with 42 inmates nonetheless remoted and being handled, in accordance to the DOCCS web site.
Thirty-five inmates and eight staffers have died of the illness.
Annucci’s memo adopted vaccination incentives introduced just lately by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio that embrace lottery tickets price as a lot as $5 million every, college scholarships, MTA MetroCards and railroad passes, and gym memberships.
Mike Powers, president of the state Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association stated, “We feel New York should think about its own essential employees who continue to serve the community and follow the lead of other states who have correctional officer-specific incentives available.”
“The brave men and women of NYSCOPBA have sacrificed their personal health and safety throughout this entire pandemic, putting in long hours in adverse conditions,” Powers stated.
“They’ve given everything they have to the state of New York, including unfairly having to fight to get their sick time made whole after being forced to quarantine after an exposure. Where is their vaccination incentive program?”
Annucci’s plan additionally got here below hearth Thursday from state Sen. Tom O’Mara (R-Elmira), who stated, “The Cuomo’s administration has more important work to do than putting together and expending its resources on care packages and arranging barbecues for state prison inmates.”
“State prison officials should be prioritizing their efforts on actions to put a stop to the rising tide of violence throughout our prison system and ensure adequate staffing levels,” O’Mara stated in a ready assertion.
O’Mara additionally accused Cuomo and his fellow Democratic lawmakers of “coddling inmates by severely hampering disciplinary sanctions, finding ways to parole more and more inmates, and diminishing the ability of correctional officers to deal with violence inside prisons.”
A Cuomo workplace declined to remark and as an alternative referred The Post to the DOCCS, which didn’t instantly reply.