Judge David Matia and Judge Peter Corrigan are both doing it.
Judge Matia said, “If we get a couple more people vaccinated, we’re a couple more steps toward back to normal. Instead of giving them 18 months of community control, I could say, ‘If you show proof that you’ve been vaccinated to your probation officer by ‘x’ date, then we’ll put you on probation for 12 months.’”
In an e-mailed statement, Judge Corrigan said, “I have asked probation officers to identify folks being supervised who are doing well on supervision, that would benefit from an incentive to be vaccinated. I will consider waiving costs and fees, shortening the period of probation, or modifying other orders that would create an incentive for that defendant to be vaccinated and does not interfere with other programming in their case plan. “
Judges in other parts of the country have also attracted attention doing something similar.
However, some local judges also say they don’t like the idea of connecting the COVID vaccine to any part of sentencing because they consider the vaccine a personal health decision. We also asked Judge Matia, why should someone who broke the law get a break for getting a shot when so many other people are doing it just because they think it’s the right thing to do?
He answered, “We’re doing what we can to convince people to get a shot. The governor’s giving away a million dollars. It’s the same thing.”
He also reasoned that judges already consider a wide range of incentives in cases, including if someone before the court works to get a high school diploma.
Judge Matia said the first defendants he offered a break to came before him in Drug Court. He gave them a deadline to get the shot in exchange for time off probation.