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Louisiana judge offers option to get COVID-19 vaccines as an alternative to community service

Judge Fred Crifasi (pictured) is offering some sentenced to community service in East Baton Rouge to opportunity to get vaccinated instead

A Louisiana judge is using his position to get more of his state vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Louisiana is currently one of the least vaccinated states in America with under 40 percent of the population fully immunized.  

Judge Fred Crifasi, who serves on the 19th Judicial District Court in East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is now offering some convicts who were sentenced to  community service as easy way out – get vaccinated instead.

He began offering the jabs as a replacement for some community service hours earlier this week.

‘Getting vaccinated is a service to the community,’ Judge Crifasi said in a statement obtained by the Washington Post. 

‘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.’ 

Currently in Louisiana, only 42 percent of residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine – trailing every state other than Mississippi.

East Baton Rouge is faring a little better than other parts of the state, with 45 percent of the population vaccinated, though it still is far away from herd immunity. 

Meanwhile, cases in the state are spiking, reaching a record 5,881 new cases on average – the most Louisiana has recorded since the pandemic began in March 2020 – and growing by 390 percent from 1,198 two weeks ago, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

In East Baton Rouge, cases have grown by 256 percent over the past two weeks, from 113 on July 15 to 403 of July 29. 

Louisiana is currently suffering from the largest spike in cases in the U.S. 

Louisiana is the second least vaccinated state in America, with only 42 percent of the population having received at least one shot. East Baton Rouge (within Region 2) has vaccinated 45 percent of its population

Louisiana is the second least vaccinated state in America, with only 42 percent of the population having received at least one shot. East Baton Rouge (within Region 2) has vaccinated 45 percent of its population

Louisiana is currently experiencing the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the country, averaging 5,881 new cases per day

Louisiana is currently experiencing the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the country, averaging 5,881 new cases per day

 East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore told The Post that he supports the judge’s efforts among this massive surge.

‘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.’ 

He also noted that normal community service opportunities could actually spread the virus, so this is a safer alternative.  

‘You are in group behavior in a lot of situations. In community service there are a lot of times where you might be in soup kitchens, maybe some folks that might not be as able to obtain a vaccine as others,’ Moore told The Post.

It is also fully legal for the judge to give this option to those sentenced to community service, though he can not mandate the vaccine to anyone.

Convicts have the choice to decline the vaccine and perform standard community service instead.

‘A judge has a lot of sentencing discretion when it comes to community service,’ Franz Borghardt, a Baton Rouge defense attorney told The Post. 

‘It’s an option, not a mandate. If you decide you don’t want it, you don’t have to get it.’ 

Ashley Greenhouse, another Baton Rouge attorney, told the newspaper one of her clients was offered the opportunity to replace community service with receiving the vaccine earlier this week. 

‘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.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk