Prison During the Pandemic by Kavar Harris

Men and women are often sent to prison because of poor choices that they have made. But just because someone has made a bad decision in the past, doesn’t mean that they should be treated any less than any other citizen. 

During the Covid pandemic, times are very hard for everyone in society. Many people were laid off and some were forced to leave work, so money is tight for many families. This has implications for many prisoners who rely on relatives for spending money. Some families cannot financially support their relatives who are incarcerated because there just isn’t enough money to give right now. 

As of January 6, 2020, a total of 190 inmates and 80 staff members in Delaware’s prisons are currently Covid positive. When inmates test positive for the virus, they are all placed together in a common area. Prisons also have lockdowns where inmates are confined to their cells. Inmates cannot go to bars, spas, restaurants, sporting events, or anything else outside of the prison. This means that the virus must be coming from staff members who serve the food, administer medication, or work as security for cell searches and transports throughout the prison. The employees are subject to transferring the virus if they contract it in their life outside of work. Many people are hopeful that the vaccine will help stop this spread. According to WDEL, Delaware’s NewsRadio, Delaware Department of Corrections Commissioner, Claire DeMatteis, told WDEL the incentives for inmates to get the vaccine “include five days of ‘good time’ credit, which can reduce an inmate’s sentence. Additional incentives include up to a 30-minute free video visit as well as free commissary items, or a free special meal.”

This action sounds a lot like inmates are being bribed to get the vaccine, especially the ones whose family members cannot provide them money at this time. Lots of inmates are being forced to get the vaccine just to make ends meet. Is it right to force inmates to get a vaccine that the general public has the option to receive?

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