A federal judge gave California officials two weeks issue mandatory Covid vaccinations for prison guards, ruling against the will of the state governor and the prison guards union. Inmates who leave prisons to work or receive visitors in person will also be included in the warrant, reports the Sacramento Bee.
“The issue of compulsory vaccines is complex”, United States District Judge Jon S. Tigar written in the order of 22 pages. “In this case, however, the relevant facts are undisputed. No one disputes the serious risks that COVID-19 poses to those in prison. “
Hundreds of prisoners have died from the virus and more than 50,000 were infected in the state, Tigar noted in his ruling.
“We do not agree with the finding of deliberate indifference, as the department has long adopted COVID-19 vaccinations, and we continue to encourage our staff, the prison population, volunteers and visitors to to get vaccinated. ” California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement, adding that the agency is still determining next steps. They also noted that 76% of incarcerated people were fully vaccinated with 57% of staff.
“This is uncharted territory in which we are in this proceeding,” Gregg Adam, with the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, which represents about 28,000 correctional officers, said the Sacramento Bee. “There is no precedent for a court ordering employees to be vaccinated in order to keep their jobs under all circumstances.” The organization is committed to fighting against orders.
The decision follows a 27-page report released in August by Receiver J. Clark Kelso on increased risks to the prisons posed by the Delta variant. Since the report’s release, 11 correctional workers have died of the disease.
Lawyers representing inmates concerned about their safety and the spread of Covid viewed the order as a victory, saying: “That’s about all we could have hoped for.”