Rep. Ayanna Pressley said on Sunday that she would fight for prison inmates, along with other groups, to get priority for receiving the coronavirus vaccine.
“I’m going to continue to fight for our most vulnerable — communities who have been disproportionately impacted by the virus, for our health care workers, for our essential workers, for incarcerated men and women to be prioritized in the distribution of the vaccine,” she said, during an interview with CNN.
The coronavirus has been an especially thorny issue for prisons given the close quarters. Due to virus-related restrictions, prisons have released thousands of inmates since the pandemic started.
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On Twitter, Pressley, D-Mass., posted an opinion article pushing the idea to prioritize prisoners.
While Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser has said she will prioritize prisoners in addition to other groups, the idea encountered pushback from Colorado Gov. Jared Polis.
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“There’s no way that prisoners are going to get it before members of a vulnerable population,” Polis said. “There’s no way it’s going to go to prisoners before it goes to people who haven’t committed any crime. That’s obvious. So those are just false.”
In prisons around the country, COVID-19 outbreaks have followed transfers of prisoners or prison workers. Nearly all of the 25 state prison systems and the federal Bureau of Prisons that responded to a survey conducted by The Marshall Project and The Associated Press said they had reduced or limited the number of prisoners they moved due to the pandemic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.