Vaccines required when York County Prison work release resumes

Matt Enright
York Dispatch
York County Prison in Springettsbury Township Monday, August, 24, 2020. Bill Kalina photo

York County Prison will require inmates participating in work release to have the COVID-19 vaccine.

The decision was made at Wednesday's prison board meeting.

Work release is scheduled to resume Aug. 23 after being halted due to the pandemic, Warden Adam Ogle told the board. The decision to require vaccines came after consultation with medical staff at the prison.

"If somebody is in the voluntary work release program and they end up getting COVID, they'll potentially have to shut down the entire work release area," Ogle said. "We're trying to avoid that. We're also trying to avoid spread in the community." 

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Several wardens across Pennsylvania are requiring vaccines before work release, Ogle said. That includes Cumberland County. 

County Commissioner Julie Wheeler asked if the general population was going to be required to have vaccines. Ogle said general population inmates would still have the option to not receive the vaccine. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections does not have a policy on vaccines for work release, Ogle noted. 

"We're not forcing them into it; it's just one of the requirements if they choose to go on work release," York County Sheriff Rich Keuerleber said at the meeting. "I think we're giving them the choice. They don't have to get it, but if that's a requirement to be on out, I think we're OK with that as far as the legal standard." 

In addition to the discussion on vaccines, the board also discussed the possibility of posting meeting minutes on the board's website. 

"We've had some Right to Know requests and some other information requests about what happens at these public meetings, and these are public meetings," Hoke said. "My opinion is this is a public meeting. Anyone can attend these. When we have security issues or other important issues, we can go into executive session. Those aren't included in the minutes."

Putting minutes on the website would help reduce the amount of time and energy needed for records requests, Hoke said, adding it would also help the public. 

As long as there is no sensitive security information on the minutes, Ogle said he was fine with putting the minutes on the website.

County spokesperson Mark Walters said he was in the process of getting the 2021 minutes uploaded.