New York officials incentivized the general public to get vaccinated with college scholarships and lottery drawings, but what could they offer to imprisoned felons to push them towards getting the jab? Sex of course.
Less than half of the state’s prison population has been vaccinated, which is markedly lower than the over 70% of law-abiding New Yorkers.
Acting Corrections and Community Supervision Commissioner Anthony Annucci took a page out of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s playbook and announced that inmates would be entered in a lottery of their own.
Fully vaccinated prisoners at each of the state’s 50 prisons will be eligible to receive five care packages full of “the most popular food items sold at our assigned facility’s commissary, not to exceed a $75 value.”
“In addition, at the conclusion of this vaccination campaign, Central Office will award a facility barbecue to all vaccinated individuals at six facilities…for the highest percentage of individuals vaccinated,” Annucci wrote in a memo last week.
While care packages and barbecues seem underwhelming compared to Cuomo’s $5 million lottery, the real incentive isn’t the prizes.
“In addition to keeping yourself, your family, and your friends safe, one other benefit for getting the vaccine is that when the Department restarts the Family Reunification Program in September, it will be a prerequisite for any participating incarcerated individual to be fully vaccinated,” Annucci said.
“Family reunification” is correctional institution-speak for a conjugal visit. Prisoners must get pre-approval from the commissioner’s office and be model inmates to qualify.
As of last week, 6,603 inmates and 5,175 prison staffers have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Thirty-five inmates and eight employees died from the disease.