An Ohio judge has a new requirement for defendants seeking probation; mandatory COVD-19 vaccination.
Judge Richard Frye of Franklin County said last week that he's included the jab as a condition of release in three cases, after the defendants attributed their unvaccinated status to procrastination - as opposed to any philosophical, medical or religious objections.
"It occurred to me that at least some of these folks need to be encouraged not to procrastinate," Frye told the Columbus Dispatch, adding "I think it’s a reasonable condition when we’re telling people to get employed and be out in the community."
He declined to “speculate” what would happen if a defendant raised a medical, religious or philosophical exemption to vaccination, but said this is a different situation entirely than people who have simply put the matter off.
An example: a man named Cameron Stringer entered a guilty plea for one charge of improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle, for which he was sentenced to two years of probation (“community control,” as it’s known in Ohio).
Stringer must submit to random drug screening; avoid further legal trouble; return a firearm in question to its rightful owner; and obtain a COVID-19 vaccine within 30 days and provide proof to the Probation Department, court documents show. -Columbus Dispatch
It's unknown whether other judges have been imposing similar vaccination requirements, however a spokesman for the state Supreme Court referred the Dispatch to a news report about a judge offering to shorten probation for those who obtain vaccines.
ACLU lobbyist Gary Daniels said the requirement 'At a minimum, appears to be problematic.'
"It doesn’t have any real relationship to community control," he said in a brief interview.
Judge Frye's requirement comes as the rate of vaccinations has stalled out - with states and businesses offering cash incentives and entry into massive jackpots for those who get vaccinated.
According to the report, fewer than 48% of Ohioans have gotten at least one jab.