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If PA prison guards refuse to get vaccinated, they should find employment somewhere else

Last week, the union representing correctional officers in Pennsylvania’s state prisons became one of the latest groups to officially oppose a vaccine or testing mandate. On Friday, they filed a complaint in Commonwealth Court seeking a preliminary injunction to stop an order put in place by Gov. Tom Wolf — a Democrat — requiring prison guards and other state workers to get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. The guards say they should not have to be tested weekly unless inmates and prison vendors are, too.

The lawsuit spells it out this way: “The commonwealth’s failure to apply the ‘vaccinate or weekly test’ rule to all individuals in the congregate setting unnecessarily increases the risk to the health and safety” of union members.

But this is about more than the safety of the guards. It’s about the safety of vulnerable inmates, as well.

In a criminal system where Black people are disproportionately imprisoned, and wrongfully convicted far more often than their white counterparts, I’m forced to ask a simple question: How many more wrongfully convicted Black prisoners are sitting inside, waiting to be infected with a virus that could very well give them a death sentence for a crime they didn’t commit?

Prison guards are well within their rights to refuse the vaccine, but they don’t have the right to endanger inmates, so if that’s the stance they want to take, they should be prepared to find employment somewhere else.

 

Click here to read the entire column on Philly.com

 

Photo: Cell #10  By. Brook Ward

Creative Commons License 

 

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