Louisiana judge allows people to opt out of community service if they get vaccinated

Louisiana judge allows people to opt out of community service if they get vaccinated
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A Louisiana judge is allowing people on probation in Baton Rouge to choose between getting vaccinated against the coronavirus or completing service hours mandated by the court.

According to a local ABC News affiliate station, 19th Judicial District Court Judge Fred Crifasi is offering the choice amid an influx in COVID-19 cases across the country and in the state.

Crifasi reportedly began making the offer this week and has had at least two people choose to get inoculated instead of completing their service hours, the news outlet noted. One of the people got fully vaccinated in place of completing his remaining 33 hours of service.

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“I don’t think the community loses out on this one,” defense attorney Franz Borghardt told WAFB 9. “In fact, I think there’s a strong argument the community wins.”

Attorney Ashley Greenhouse said Crifasi offered her client the deal in place of completing the remaining four hours of community service.

“He was like, 'If you show me, we’ll reset the matter,' ” Greenhouse told the news outlet. “ 'If you’ll come back and show me you’re double vaccinated, fully vaccinated then I will give you credit for those hours.' I think he was really careful that he was not forcing you, he was not coercing you to do it.”

A similar offer has also been given to Louisiana inmates, The Advocate reported. Officials have allowed inmates who get fully vaccinated to receive $5 in canteen credit. Nearly 85 percent of incarcerated individuals have reportedly taken up the offer.

Louisiana has reported nearly 531,952 coronavirus cases and 10,948 coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic. About 1.7 million people living in the state have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.