A judge in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is offering convicts on probation a chance to take some time off of their service hours if they get vaccinated against COVID-19. So far, at least two people have taken up the offer by Judge Fred T. Crifasi and gotten fully vaccinated, according to court records reviewed by WBRZ.
"He was like, if you show me, we'll reset the matter," attorney Ashley Greenhouse told WAFB of the judge's offer to her client. "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."
Greenhouse said that her client had just four hours of community service left. Another person had 33 hours of community service taken off their sentence when they agreed to get fully vaccinated.
"Judges do innovative things like this all the time. For example, you have probably seen or heard in the past the judge would allow your donation of blood instead of community service work or instead of payment of the fine," District Attorney Hillar Moore said. "If a judge is going to make this offer, I think it's a reasonable one."
Not everybody agrees with the idea of a judge offering leniency to get vaccinated.
"I don't think the government is necessarily the right entity to be involved in me injecting something into my body," defense attorney Jarrett Ambeau said. "Judge Crifasi himself, individually, is incredibly fair. The point is when a government actor steps in to ask you to do something like, 'will I suffer for not doing it?' And that is the question."
Moore said that no defendant is being forced to get vaccinated and can choose to finish off their community service.
"These judges in these circumstances are being totally reasonable, but I do understand that someone may think that way. And if that's the case, don't get vaccinated," Moore said.