States Offer Perks to Inmates who Get the Covid-19 Vaccine

A nurse prepares a COVID-19 vaccine Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 in Pittsboro, N.C.

A nurse prepares a COVID-19 vaccine Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 in Pittsboro, N.C. Associated Press

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

North Carolina is the latest state to offer incentives—commissary credits, bonus visits and early release—to motivate inmates to receive vaccination shots.

Most inmates in North Carolina’s state prisons will be eligible for a sentence reduction that would shave five days off their remaining time if they opt to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, officials said Friday.

More than two-thirds of the state’s inmates qualify for the early release program. Prisoners who aren’t eligible for the sentence reduction credit would receive a $5 bonus to their canteen balance, officials said, and every inmate who receives the vaccine will also receive a free 10-minute phone call and four extra visitation sessions with friends or family members.

“We believe we’ve put together a high-impact package that is going to support the health of our offender population—and also the health of our staff and their families,” Todd Ishee, commissioner of the state's prisons, said on a media call Friday.

The incentives, based in part on recommendations from wardens, are designed to motivate inmates to receive the vaccine to help slow the spread of Covid-19 in the state’s correctional facilities. Nearly 9,100 inmates have tested positive for the virus, and 42 have died, according to data from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. As of Monday, there were 480 active cases and five hospitalized prisoners.

Covid-19 spreads quickly through prisons, where quarantining and social distancing are difficult, if not impossible. As of August, rates of the virus were nearly five times higher among incarcerated populations—and three times higher among correctional staff—than in the general population, according to data from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Math.

North Carolina is one of at least 17 states currently vaccinating prisoners. The state began administering doses to inmates two weeks ago, and officials hoped to administer the last of an initial round of 3,300 doses on Friday, with another 2,000 expected this week. 

Shots are voluntary for prisoners, and a timeline for inoculating a majority of the population depends largely on the availability of the vaccine, said Dr. Arthur “Les” Campbell, medical director for the state’s prisons. Doing so benefits the health of staff and prisoners but also helps broader communities, where correctional officers and inmates’ families live and work, he said.

“We really see our mission as public health and public safety,” he said. “You cannot consider the prisons in a vacuum.”

At least two other states are offering similar incentives to inmates who opt to receive the vaccine. In Delaware, prisoners can receive free commissary items and video visits with friends and family, and in Virginia, they’re eligible for free email and phone credits along with care packages with snacks and other items.

“We want all staff and inmates who want the Covid-19 vaccine to get their inoculations as soon as possible,” Harold Clarke, director of the Virginia Department of Corrections, said in a statement. “This effort is important to all in the VADOC community–our staff, inmates, and the community outside the walls.”

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a staff correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

FEATURED CASE STUDIES
Powered By The Atlas
A large urban park creates a "connected" visitor experience with SMART.NODEs™
Sydney NSW, Australia
Community feedback increases 13x in Lancaster, PA with both offline and online engagement methods
Lancaster, PA, USA
Firefighters Use a Thermal Imaging Camera to Make a Lifesaving Grab
Palm Bay, FL, USA

NEXT STORY: Paid Sick Leave and the Prolonged Pandemic

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.