COVID-19 Vaccinations: How Maryland Prisons DealIt’s been a very, very long year. We have all gone through unimaginable hardship thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the vaccines only now becoming fully accessible, we are finally starting to recover.

Yes, COVID is still here. You still need to be responsible and take all precautions. But the statewide positivity rate is finally below 3% for the first time since October 2020. There are over 2.4 million citizens in the state who are fully vaccinated now, with over 5.3 million doses administered thus far. That is great. Really, really great. There’s no breath of fresh air like seeing actual, statistical improvement after a year of bad news after bad news.

This is all due to the accessibility of the vaccine (lack of cost very much included) and the personal responsibility of every masked citizen taken to do their part. But there’s a significant portion of our population that hasn’t been so lucky: the incarcerated.

How are they doing? What is our state doing to protect the lives of those under its charge? If you or someone you love is facing time behind bars, this pandemic adds a whole new level of concern to your situation. At the very least, you deserve to know what’s being done to address those concerns.

Getting vaccinated behind bars

As previously stated, those incarcerated here in Maryland don’t exactly have the same opportunities as everyone else. It’s a terrifying thought everyone facing incarceration over the past year has worried about: will you die of COVID-19 if you go to jail? Will someone you love?

Correctional facilities have tried to be transparent about their plans to protect prisoners, but it can be hard to trust what they say. For the entirety of this pandemic, people somehow involved with incarcerated individuals, including said individuals themselves, have been outspoken about their anxieties regarding how this pandemic is being handled behind bars. There’s a myriad of reasons behind why, including the inability for prisoners to social distance, a lack of PPE being distributed, and a seemingly apathetic attitude from those in charge. For example, in the height of this pandemic, there was a massive contraband shakedown at the Jessup prison. This would be fine by itself, except that shakedown involved outside staff coming inside — which then lead to an increase in cases in December.

Not only that, but a lot of the regulations put in place to stop the spread — like reduced visiting hours and recreational time — is just simply cruel to the prisoners themselves. These people are already serving their time in a difficult environment during this unprecedented situation, and it seems as though they are being punished for it. Morale is important to the mental and physical wellbeing of everyone in the prison, and it is being ignored. Of course, people are worried about experiencing this on any level.

As of May 4th, 4,400 prisoners in Maryland have gotten coronavirus, and 30 have died. As the vaccine is brought into prisons, prisoners are being offered bonus commissary packages if they choose to get vaccinated, and staff has their own perks to look forward to, should they decide as well. In a perfect world, these vaccinations would be mandatory for both staff and prisoners, especially because there is certainly no shortage in the state.

If you or a loved one have been arrested and face incarceration, you already have enough to worry about. You should not need to worry about even a short sentence costing you your health, and certainly not your life. Those behind bars are still people, and they still have rights. The good news is there are people who can fight for your rights, regardless of what you’re convicted of.

At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, our compassionate criminal defense attorneys are here for you as long as you need us, even if you’re behind bars. If you’re being treated unfairly or dangerously, keeping the same attorney from your trial means you have someone who knows you and your case on your side to help. Hopefully, of course, it won’t come to that. With offices in Annapolis and Ellicott City, we can address your concerns immediately and confidently. For more information on how we’ll fight for you, call us today at 410-271-1892 or fill out our online contact form.

And remember — Keep Calm, and Call Drew.