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Massachusetts inmates can get prison time reduced if they get the COVID vaccine

UPDATE: The Baker administration rescinded the offer after the governor’s office learned about it, according to a state official. The latest story can be found here.

Massachusetts prisoners could see their prison sentence reduced if they get vaccinated, according to a letter sent to inmates last week.

The state Department of Corrections offered extra “earned good time” to prisoners who receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine being offered in state prisons, Commissioner Carol A. Mici wrote in a Jan. 28 memo.

“I have determined that receiving the vaccine is significantly valuable to rehabilitation,” Mici wrote.

As part of the DOC’s internal campaign to boost participation, Mici told prisoners they could qualify for up to 7.5 days earned good time if they watch all the informational videos, read the educational fliers and get both vaccine doses. Sources told MassLive that officials are mulling over possibly offering more to those who get vaccinated.

Prisoners will have to attest in writing they have viewed and read the educational materials to qualify for the earned good time.

Prisoners and staff at correctional facilities were among the first eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Massachusetts. They were placed in Phase 1, along with group homes and other congregate settings to help reduce spread of the virus in closed quarters.

The DOC started administering the first dose of the vaccine last month. 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 those videos was a recorded discussion involving Rev. Liz Walker, Dr. Gloria White Hammond and Dr. Anthony Fauci at the Roxbury Presbyterian Church. The church hosted Fauci in November to address concerns people may have about the vaccine and medical providers, considering the industry’s history of experimentation on Black people and unequal access to medical treatment.

Wellpath, the department’s medical vendor, created an informational video discussing how effective the vaccine is and answering other frequently asked questions.

The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security also contracted Commonwealth Medicine to create a video series on the vaccination, according to the DOC. The department said the series was developed with input from formerly incarcerated people, advocates, health care providers and others.

Those videos are available in English, Spanish and Portuguese, and one of the videos focuses on incarcerated women, according to the DOC.


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