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Vaccine incentive program launched for inmates

The Maui News

State inmates who become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are eligible to receive a one-time incentive award of $50, under a vaccine incentive program implemented by the state Department of Public Safety.

The program applies to inmates in department custody who were incarcerated on or after March 3 and who remain in custody. The payment will be deposited into the inmate’s spendable trust account.

So far, 2,530 inmates housed in Hawaii and Arizona qualify for the payment, the department reported Thursday. Another 137 inmates are pending full vaccination status and approval for the incentive award.

Tommy Johnson, deputy director for corrections, said the department “is doing everything it can to educate inmates about the vaccine and encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”

“We’ve seen a substantial increase in inmate vaccinations that we believe is a result of our education efforts,” he said. “It is our hope that inmates who are still on the fence about getting vaccinated will participate.”

The department requested and received approval for $615,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funds to be specifically used as an incentive initiative for offenders in custody.

The incentive payment isn’t available to state employees. Former inmates who are no longer in custody aren’t eligible.

In a news release, the department said it encourages staff to voluntarily be tested and receive the vaccination. The governor has said state employees are eligible for up to two hours of administrative leave per dose to take the COVID-19 vaccine during normal work hours, as operations permit.

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