Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Plan Offers Vaccine Incentive for Jail, HOC

Committee okays $50 payment for any inmate or PTO for any staff member who gets vaccinated.

By - Jul 26th, 2021 09:03 pm
Milwaukee County Jail and Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee County Jail and Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors Finance Committee approved an incentive program to increase vaccination among people incarcerated at the Milwaukee County Jail and House of Correction (HOC).

A resolution sponsored by Sup. Ryan Clancy would have the county put $50 into the account of anyone that receives the vaccine in the jail or the HOC.

Clancy told the committee Monday that the resolution “is not perfect legislation,” explaining that he originally wanted the incentive to apply to anyone who has received the vaccine and is locked up in a county facility, even if they received the vaccine before they were incarcerated.

“It’s obviously difficult for folks to validate that, while they’re incarcerated,” he said, so that piece was dropped. “However, with the Delta variant transmission increasing as rapidly as it is, we don’t have time to lose on this.”

The county set aside $5 million from the 2020 year-end budget surplus to fund COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Clancy’s resolution would pull $165,000 from that pot of money for the incentive program. $44,000 would go to the HOC and $121,000 would go to the jail.

In June, the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office reported to the board that 46% of incarcerated individuals at the jail were vaccinated and that 49% of the jail staff were vaccinated.

As of July 18th, 56% of jail detainees and 49% of staff were vaccinated, while at the HOC, 61% of detainees and 58% of staff were completely vaccinated, according to the county’s publicly available data

A recent vaccination report for the general public in Milwaukee County showed that as of July 19th, 55% of the population that is eligible for the vaccine is vaccinated.

The resolution is also related to a more general issue at the county jail and HOC that Clancy said he plans to address with upcoming legislation: the quality of the food.

When Clancy toured the county’s justice facilities, nearly all of the people in the county’s custody told him “that both the quality and the quantity of the food that we give them is not adequate,” he said

“What I heard from folks is that they’re using the canteen in order to supplement their own diet,” he said. “To both get enough calories, to get enough flavor essentially to take in the food that we give them.” 

The committee approved Clancy’s resolution unanimously. It will next go before the full board for final approval.

Vaccination Incentive for County Employees

The incentive at its criminal justice facilities isn’t the only one being offered by the county.

In July, a vaccine incentive was implemented for county government employees. It’s being called “Vaccin8” and it allows employees who have completed their vaccine series to receive additional paid time off (PTO).

Full-time employees are eligible for up to eight hours of PTO, part-time employees four hours, and hourly employees and seasonal employees two hours.

The county has set a deadline for submitting proof of vaccination by September 6th, in order to incentivize employees getting vaccinated as soon as possible, They will, however, have until the end of 2022 to use the PTO.

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