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A New York State Supreme Court judge in the Bronx ruled Monday that the state must immediately offer COVID-19 vaccines to inmates in its correctional system, reports said.

Justice Alison Y. Tuitt said that those incarcerated in the state have been arbitrarily left out of the vaccine distribution, which she called “unfair and unjust,” according to the New York Times.

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“There is no acceptable excuse for this deliberate exclusion,” she wrote.

New York magazine reported that Tuitt’s ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed in the Bronx in February.

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Infection rates in prisons are more than three times as high as in the general public. Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that more than 106,000 prison employees in 29 systems, including the Federal Bureau of Prisons, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. More than 388,000 incarcerated people and 105,000 staff members have contracted the coronavirus over the last year. 

The Times reported that there are about 50,000 people in the New York correctional system.

The paper reported that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office seemed to accept Tuitt’s ruling. Beth Garvey, the acting counsel to the governor, said, “Our goal all along has been to implement a vaccination program that is fair and equitable, and these changes will help ensure that continues to happen.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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