Prisoners in Montana are Getting Priority for COVID Vaccine
I have no problem with prisoners in our prison system and inmates in our jails being vaccinated, especially for COVID-19. I do have a problem with them moving to the front of the line and getting the vaccine before hard-working Americans can get the vaccine- especially when the vaccine is in limited supply.
If you missed the good news that came out Monday, President Trump's efforts to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine to the American people in record time is now coming to fruition. President Trump delivers once again. Health care workers, obviously, top the priority list for getting the vaccine.
Matt Hoffman wrote a story for The Billings Gazette noting how teachers will also be prioritized for the vaccine in Montana, but they won't be eligible for the vaccine until tier 3 under Montana's plan. This is also when prisoners in our prison system would be eligible for the vaccine, according to the report. Here's who else is covered under tier 3:
- People from racial and ethnic minority groups
- People from tribal communities
- People who are incarcerated/detained in correctional facilities
- People experiencing homelessness/living in shelters
- People attending colleges and universities
- People who work in educational settings (e.g., early learning centers, schools, and colleges and universities)
- People living and working in other congregate settings
Prisoners being treated on par with school teachers in Montana? Hopefully the incoming governor can make some modifications to this plan from the outgoing administration.
PRIOR STORY FROM APRIL 17, 2020: COVID: Prisoners Not Being Tested Prior to Release | https://newstalk955.com/covid-prisoners-not-being-tested-prior-to-release/?utm_source=tsmclip&utm_medium=referral
Whether you agree or disagree with the move by Governor Steve Bullock (D-MT) to call for some prisoners to be released due to the coronavirus- here's the question I had: would they be testing the inmates prior to releasing them out on to the streets?
I mean, if the argument is that some of these inmates should be released because the virus is more likely to spread inside of our prisons and our jails, then shouldn't we be more likely to want to test them prior to releasing them out on to the streets?
I reached out to the Montana Department of Corrections back on April 3rd, and received a response earlier this week from Carolynn Bright, the Communications Director for the Montana Department of Corrections:
Medical specialists have not ordered the collection of samples for COVID-19 testing from all offenders leaving DOC custody. Should an offender who is leaving DOC custody demonstrate symptoms associated with COVID-19, medical professionals will recommend he or she contact a health care professional in the community to follow up. Assistance is available through probation and parole officers and other transition specialists should the offender need help connecting with a medical professional. Once DOC supervision of an offender has ended or a sentence has expired, the department has no legal authority over that individual.
Bright also tells me that, "to date, there have been no positive cases of COVID-19 among inmates in DOC prisons." She added:
The DOC is following Governor Bullock’s April 1 directive related to state correctional and state-contracted correctional facilities. The department is providing support to the Board of Pardons and Parole to consider early release for the following, but only so long as they do not pose a public safety risk and can have their medical and supervision needs adequately met in the community:
Inmates aged 65 or older;
Inmates with medical conditions that place them at high risk during this pandemic or who are otherwise medically frail;
Pregnant inmates; or
Inmates nearing their release date.
Here's the challenge I foresee with not testing all of the inmates prior to release. One, it's been reported that as many or as little as 25% of people infected with the coronavirus are asymptomatic. Two, the CDC tells us that it could take up to two weeks before symptoms even show up in the first place. So, if inmates are only tested if they show symptoms, we could potentially be releasing inmates who are either asymptomatic, or simply have not developed the symptoms yet.
Well, the liberal Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court called on the jails and detention centers in Montana to release inmates due to concerns over the coronavirus. Liberal Governor Steve Bullock (D-MT) followed similar suit when it comes to our prisons.
Guess what? At least one of the inmates released from jail is already back behind bars. Shocker!
“(On the) county jail side, the judges and the county attorney have worked together and there have been a few that have been given releases under special conditions,” Dawson County Correctional Facility Warden Tom Green said.
“Unfortunately, one of those releases has already committed another crime and is back in jail,” Green said.
And that's just one of the guys who got caught. How many more were released and ended up back in jail? How many more are out there committing additional crimes and not getting caught? With everything our law enforcement has to deal with right now- criminal catch and release shouldn't have to be added to their plate.
In case you missed it. Here's my prior post about this topic from last week.
Original Story- CRAZY: MONTANA RELEASING PRISONERS DURING CRISIS
What part of shelter-in-place/ stay-at-home did you not hear? If we can lock down assisted living facilities, we can lock down prisons. Don't release criminals while treating everyone else in Montana like criminals.
The Associated Press reported that liberal Governor Steve Bullock (D-MT) is calling on the Board of Pardons and Parole to consider releasing certain prisoners from our prison during the coronavirus crisis. The AP later added that a board official said it was already happening.
The Montana ACLU then went on a tweet storm calling for even more prisoners to be released. I already told you my reaction via Twitter Thursday morning. Here's how others responded:
John Jackson (@pvtjokerus):
Because as we all know, convicts will be the first people to follow rules and regs issued by the govt. Like staying at home and social distancing.
By the way, as Fox News Radio reported Thursday morning- federal prisons are doing just that- locking down their inmates for at least two weeks. Politico notes that US Attorney General Bill Barr has stated that "many inmates are likely safer in prison than outside."
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