Izard County, AR – Offenders who prove they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be given credit against their court fines in Izard County, according to the sheriff’s office.
The fine forgiveness program implemented by District Judge David Miller and Circuit Judge Tim Weaver late last week will award vaccine-compliant defendants by giving them a $200 credit against their fine obligations, the Izard County Sheriff’s Department (ICSD) said in a Facebook post on July 30.
“Circuit Judge Tim Weaver and District Judge David Miller have asked the Izard County Sheriff’s Office to announce they are implementing a fine forgiveness program for those who have been fully vaccinated or those that become vaccinated for the COVID-19 Virus,” the ICSD’s post read.
Defendants must present photo ID and proof of vaccination to qualify for the fine forgiveness program, which is currently slated to run through Nov. 15.
“Individuals with fines in District Court can take the necessary documentation to Judge Miller’s Office and those with fines in Circuit Court should present their documentation to the Izard County Sheriff’s Office,” the ICSD noted.
Multiple residents took to Facebook to voice their discontent with the judges’ fine forgiveness plan.
“So disappointed in the update from Judge Weaver and David Miller in pushing the vaccine,” one person wrote in response to the sheriff’s department’s post. “I feel we have crossed the line to be fair to all.”
Another commenter called the move “unethical.”
“I’m just here wondering where my $200 is for never having fines… I think that is deserved. Since criminals can get rewarded for committing crimes,” one person wrote.
“So Izard county has enough criminals that we decided incentivizing vaccination would influence a significant portion of the population?” another resident asked.
Others praised the incentive, calling it “unconventional but clever.”
“Proud to be from Izard county. Thank you so much for helping the community in this way!” a happy resident wrote.
The judges aren’t the only government officials who have incentivized vaccinations in Arkansas.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced in May that residents who receive their shots can take their vaccination card to a local health unit to collect their prize of a $20 Arkansas Lottery Scholarship scratch-off ticket, KUAR reported.
The incentive program launched June 1.
“This is an important ticket for those that are interested in getting their vaccine because what this offers you is an immediate chance to win a $1 million cash prize,” Arkansas Scholarship Lottery Director Eric Hagler told KUAR. “There are currently two $1 million prizes still in the game and over $19 million in total cash prizes, so what that gives you is a one-and-three odds of winning some prize with this ticket for getting your shot.”
If they don’t win, they still have another chance, Hagler added.
“If you scratch your ticket and it doesn’t win, go to our website My Arkansas Lottery and enter your ticket number for a second chance to win a million dollars,” he told KUAR. “So, you actually get two chances at winning a million dollars.”
The other option vaccine-compliant residents can take choose to take advantage of is to receive free gift certificates for a small game hunting license and a fishing license.
The licenses have a combined value of $21.
Hutchinson said the state is funneling $2 million into the incentive program, which will provide 50,000 Game and Fish certificates and 50,000 lottery tickets, KUAR reported.
“If it is successful, if it actually encourages people, and we increase the number of us getting the vaccine, then we can increase that funding and put more resources into it,” the governor said. “This is funding that we have in the Department of Health that’s specifically designated for vaccine distribution, and it’s been approved that it can be used for incentives as well.”