Louisiana judge offers option to get COVID-19 vaccines as an alternative to community service

Louisiana judge allows people on probation to get COVID-19 vaccines as an alternative to community service, with cases rising 390% in the last two weeks in the state

  • East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Judge Fred Crifasi offers some convicts the option to replace community service with getting vaccinated
  • Only 42% of Louisiana residents and 45% of East Baton Rouge residents have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Louisiana is undergoing a massive wave of coronavirus cases, growing 390% in the past two weeks
  • Lawyers say they support the judge’s initiative and hope it can help control the spread of the community

Judge Fred Crifasi (pictured) offers some East Baton Rouge community service prisoners to get vaccinated instead

A Louisiana judge is using his position to get more of his state vaccinated against COVID-19.

Louisiana is currently one of the least vaccinated states in America with less than 40 percent of the population fully immunized.

Judge Fred Crifasi, who sits on the 19th Judicial Court in East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is now offering some convicts sentenced to community service as an easy way out — get vaccinated instead.

He began offering the jabs earlier this week as a replacement for some community service hours.

“Vaccination is a service to the community,” Judge Crifasi said in a statement from the Washington Post.

“So if a probation candidate is inclined to get vaccinated, I’ll award that effort for any community service requirement. The number of hours varies and depends on the person’s circumstances.’

Currently in Louisiana, only 42 percent of residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — behind every state except Mississippi.

East Baton Rouge is doing slightly better than other parts of the state, with 45 percent of the population vaccinated, though it’s still a long way from herd immunity.

Meanwhile, cases in the state are rising, averaging a record 5,881 new cases — the most Louisiana has recorded since the pandemic began in March 2020 — and growing 390 percent from 1,198 two weeks ago, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University.

In East Baton Rouge, cases are up 256 percent in the past two weeks, from 113 on July 15 to 403 on July 29.

Louisiana currently suffers largest spike in US cases

Louisiana is the second least vaccinated state in America, with only 42 percent of the population having received at least one shot.  East Baton Rouge (within Region 2) has vaccinated 45 percent of the population

Louisiana is the second least vaccinated state in America, with only 42 percent of the population having received at least one shot. East Baton Rouge (within Region 2) has vaccinated 45 percent of the population

Louisiana is currently experiencing the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the country, with an average of 5,881 new cases per day

Louisiana is currently experiencing the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the country, with an average of 5,881 new cases per day

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore told The Post that he supports the judge’s efforts under this massive wave.

“I think it’s definitely a viable option given where we are now,” Moore said.

“We want to keep our courthouse population and our inmates safe, so this might be one way to do it.”

He also noted that normal community service could actually spread the virus, so this is a safer alternative.

‘You are in group behavior in many situations. In community service you are often in soup kitchens, maybe some people may not be as able to get a vaccine as others,” Moore told The Post.

It is also completely legal for the judge to give this option to those sentenced to community service, although he cannot oblige the vaccine to anyone.

Convicts have the choice to reject the vaccine and instead perform standard community service.

“A judge has a lot of discretion when it comes to community service,” Franz Borghardt, a lawyer in Baton Rouge, told The Post.

“It’s an option, not a mandate. If you decide you don’t want it, you don’t have to get it.’

Ashley Greenhouse, another Baton Rouge attorney, told the paper that earlier this week one of her clients was given the opportunity to replace community service with receiving the vaccine.

“My client had four hours of community service left and the judge offered it to him and then re-opened the case,” Greenhouse said.

“He said if my client came back and provided proof that he had been vaccinated, he would be credited for his community service hours.”

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