Inmates to receive $50 incentive for COVID-19 vaccination

The Department of Public Safety has implemented a vaccine incentive program for inmates.

Inmates in the department’s custody during the period of March 3, 2021, through Dec. 31, 2024, who become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are eligible to receive a one-time incentive award of $50.

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The payment will be deposited into the inmate’s spendable trust account.

The incentive program applies only to inmates still in custody, DPS spokeswoman Toni Schwartz said. Those who have been released from custody are ineligible.

DPS is coordinating with staff at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz., to offer this incentive to Hawaii inmates housed at the out-of-state facility.

There are 2,530 inmates currently in custody in Hawaii and Arizona who already qualify for the incentive payment. Another 137 are pending full vaccination status and approval for the incentive award.

“DPS is doing everything it can to educate inmates about the vaccine and encourage everyone to get vaccinated,” said Tommy Johnson, deputy director for corrections. “We’ve seen a substantial increase in inmate vaccinations that we believe is a result of our education efforts.

“It is our hope that inmates who are still on the fence about getting vaccinated will participate.”

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DPS requested and received approval for $615,000 in federal coronavirus recovery funds to be specifically used as an incentive initiative for offenders in custody. This incentive payment is not available to state employees.

Hawaii Community Correctional Center reported 53 inmate COVID-19 test results on Thursday. One was positive and 52 negative.

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