In East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, some people appearing before Judge Fred Crifasi, of the 19th Judicial District Court, are being given the opportunity to get vaccinated instead of doing community service.
The judge began offering the alternative earlier this week, due to an increase in case numbers in Louisiana. At that time, roughly 19,000 cases have been reported in the state. Louisiana is among states with the highest daily reported cases per capita in the nation, according to date from The Washington Post.
“Getting vaccinated is a service to the community,” Judge Crifasi said in a statement. “So, if a probation candidate is inclined to get vaccinated, I will grant credit for that effort toward any requirement of community service. The amount of hours varies and depends on the person’s circumstances.”
Baton Rouge attorney Ashley Greenhouse said one of her clients was offered the opportunity to get a vaccination during a court appearance on Monday. “My client had four hours of community service remaining and the judge offered it to him and then reset the matter,” said Greenhouse. “He said if my client returned and showed proof he had been vaccinated he would receive credit for his community service hours. He was very clear that this was just an alternative.”
Federal and state agencies as well as private companies are implementing vaccination mandates. The courtroom offers in Baton Rouge, however, are strictly voluntary. “A judge has a lot of sentencing discretion when it comes to community service,” said Franz Borghardt, a Baton Rouge defense attorney. “It’s an option, not a mandate. If you decide you don’t want it, you don’t have to get it.”
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore said his office supports the vaccination deals. “I think it is surely a viable option given where we are at,” said Moore. “We’d like to keep our courthouse population safe and our inmates safe so this would maybe be one way to do it.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: PEOPLE.COM
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