Health

Get a Covid-19 Vaccine or Face Prison, Judges Order in Probation Cases

In Ohio, as in the rest of the country, private businesses can impose their own requirements on employees and patrons. Federal government employees are required to be vaccinated or face regular testing, but state and local government institutions set their own rules. In Ohio, more than 800 school districts and other local entities function independently, Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Gov. Mike DeWine, said on Monday.

Mr. DeWine said Ohio was a state that exemplified the dual risk of infection. “Those who are vaccinated are safe, those who are not vaccinated are not safe,” he said.

Asked about his decision, Judge Frye said in an email on Monday that he had issued vaccine orders three times so far, and none of the defendants raised medical or religious objections.

“Ohio law allows judges to impose reasonable conditions of probation, intended to rehabilitate the defendant and protect the community,” Judge Frye said. He said that, based on medical evidence, the vaccination would protect others and keep those on probation safer as they search for or keep jobs.

Sharona Hoffman, a professor and co-director of the Law-Medicine Center at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Law, said it was unusual to pair sentencing with the vaccine.

“Judges get creative in order to keep people out of jail,” she said. “They impose all sorts of sentences and, again, this is to the benefit of the person. And if you are going to be out in the community, you can’t run around infecting people with Covid.”

In some states, such as Georgia, judges have offered reduced sentences if defendants get vaccinated, WSB-TV in Atlanta reports. Early this year, prisoners in Massachusetts were offered the possibility of reduced prison sentences for receiving the vaccine, but the decision was later rescinded.


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