Mass. COs say inmates treated better over vaccine mandate
Union officials are pointing out the "sharp contrast" between "a policy set to fire you" and one offering inmates time off sentences
By Joe Dwinell
Oct. 26—The correction officers union is slamming the governor's vax mandate against the "absurdity" of previously offering inmates time off sentences for taking the jab.
That inmate incentive was quickly rescinded in February, but a union memo sent out Monday said the inmates were treated better than the officers who must watch over them.
"There is a sharp contrast between the quite pleasant request given to the most dangerous felons serving state prison sentences and the abhorrent treatment of hard-working law enforcement and public safety officers," the memo from the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union states.
Department of Correction Commissioner Carol Mici wrote to inmates in late January that a week of "Earned Good Time (EGT)" would be offered for anyone taking a two-dose coronavirus vaccine. She wrote that "receiving the vaccine is significantly valuable to rehabilitation" and worth good time off.
That didn't sit well with Gov. Charlie Baker, who spiked that DOC perk.
"When the Governor's office became aware of the memo, the decision was made to rescind it because the memo is not consistent with the Administration's policies regarding reduced prison terms," an administration statement in early February read.
The DOC officers' union has circled back at the fumbled offer by saying the "absurdity behind a policy that incentivizes and rewards felons" for taking a shot "cannot be overstated." The union then added, "Stand that program side by side against the policy set to fire you."
The DOC union said it is still trying to reverse the mandate after losing in court, but time is running out as both prison officers and State Police troopers are denied exemptions leaving them with a choice to get vaccinated or terminated.
A Baker spokesman did not comment on the latest DOC union memo. Baker has said in the past he is "following the science" in requiring state workers to get vaccinated or face disciplinary measures that includes unpaid time off and then termination.
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