The Wisconsin Senate has passed a bill which bars prisoners from being prioritized in the state’s COVID-19 rollout
Democrats argued the state has a responsibility towards men and women incarcerated in close quarters where the coronavirus could spread. “I just think that this is a humanitarian necessity,” said Minority Leader Janet Bewley (D-Ashland).
“They (prisoners) are the most vulnerable. (From the) very beginning this has been about vaccinating the most vulnerable, protecting the most vulnerable,” said Senator Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire)
The bill’s author, Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) said the legislation doesn’t deny vaccine shots to prisoners, and they’ll still remain eligible based on age and underlying medical conditions. “To just automatically put 20,000 prisoners in front of essential workers and law-abiding citizens, it just doesn’t make any sense,” he said.
“Our children are our most vulnerable,” said Senator Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield), who suggested teachers ought to be prioritized over prisoners, which would help schools to reopen.
The measure (SB 8) passed on a party line vote and now heads to the Assembly.