OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
This is nuts.
The local WSB-TV new channel in Atlanta, Georgia — a Cox Media Group affiliate — reports that “some local judges have put a unique program in place: offenders who get vaccinated may have their sentences reduced.”
Reporter Tony Thomas with Channel 2 spoke directly to courthouse employees to confirm this information and the new initiative is meant to “help improve the community.”
Hall County Court Administrator Jason Stephenson said, “In our judge’s view, every shot in the arm is a service to the community.”
“The sentence reductions have been offered in several dozen cases so far,” the report says.
“I think the whole idea is that any encouragement we can do to convince as many people to get the vaccine as possible (is a good thing),” Sr. Assistant Public Defender Andy Maddox said. “I think initially it’s some curiosity. Some have already gotten it. Many are pondering it.”
“The most important precaution right now that we are told to consider is the vaccine,” Stephenson added.
More from Channel 2:
“You won’t find a uniform application for it,” Stephenson said. “(The judge offers) up to 20 and as many as 40 hours in some cases that they can receive credit for it.”
Hall and Dawson county residents have shown a reluctance to getting vaccinated. Overall in the state of Georgia, 38% of residents have received at least one vaccination shot, but that drops to 28% in Hall and 25% in Dawson.
Sr. Assistant Public Defender Andy Maddox said he expects some of his clients to take advantage of the offer. He said almost all of his recent clients have been offered the deal..
Court leaders said there’s no pressure for offenders to take the deal, but they hope that as the number grows, so will the impact on the community.
The judges have not set a time on how long the vaccination offers might be made. They are currently doing it on a case-by-case basis.