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NYS offering McDonalds, pizza to inmates who get vaccinated

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 9:08 AM EDT
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ALBANY, New York (WWNY) - New York state will try to encourage prison inmates to get vaccinated by offering McDonald’s meals, pizza, and even a special Christmas dinner.

A memo from Anthony Annucci, Acting Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, which oversees the state’s prisons, spells out the offer.

In it, Annucci wrote ““To further encourage more acceptance of the vaccine, the department will offer another incentive program for all those presently unvaccinated individuals, who get partially or fully vaccinated by Dec. 8, 2021.”

“This incentive program will include a pared down menu, such as pizza or McDonald’s, from a local vendor in your area.” The memo sets out $10 as the maximum that can be spent per inmate.

The New York Post, which was one of the news organizations to first report the story, reports that just under half of the state’s prisoners have gotten at least one shot.

If a prison boosts its inoculation rate by at least 10 percent, it will be rewarded with a special roast beef Christmas dinner, which Annucci notes, “in previous years was very popular.”

The head of the union representing correctional officers and other law enforcement officers employed by the state isn’t having it.

The state should provide universal testing of staff, inmates, visitors, and contractors at the facilities, Mike Powers, President of the State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, (NYSCOPBA) told 7 News Thursday

As things now stand, correctional officers can be tested for COVID rather than getting vaccinated. But Powers said they have to make arrangements and get tested on their own time.

“That has posed significant morale issues for our members - and to have this incentive come out, to incentivize the inmate population, is not sitting well with our membership,” he said.

Powers pointed out that the union has been pushing to have the state tighten rules about the vendors who come into the state’s prisons.

That makes the incentive particularly galling.

“They got McDonald’s overnight, and we can’t seem to get a secured vendor for the last two years. It’s an issue due to the violence and the amount of contraband that’s coming into these facilities.”

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