TRACE GALLAGHER (CO-ANCHOR): That's Colorado's governor, Jared Polis, backing away from his state's vaccination plan after backlash over the story we brought you yesterday, that prison inmates in the state would be vaccinated before senior citizens. But now some civil liberties groups are upset, saying prisoners should be at the head of the line. The state's controversial plan first came to light in a Denver Post op-ed written by George Brauchler, he is the district attorney for Colorado's 18th Judicial District and he joins us now. Mr. District Attorney, so good of you to join us, you heard the governor at the top there. He was responding in part to your op-ed which reads in part, quoting here, "The decision to prioritize the vaccination of inmates above super at-risk adults is not only contrary to math and decency, it is also contrary to the guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. As the son of a 78-year-old father I ask this: What in the hell is Gov. Polis doing?" He is now walking it back. What do you make of that?
GEORGE BRAUCHLER (COLORADO DISTRICT ATTORNEY): It's music to my ears. I think the policy from its inception was crack smoke crazy to suggest that people who are in prison, who earned their way to prison, are going to be vaccinated before the most vulnerable, at-risk group that we have, and that's the over-65 group. I mean look, in Colorado, of the 2,500 deaths we've had related to COVID, 90% are people 60 and older. In the prison system we've had seven tragic deaths. Seven compared to 90%.
GALLAGHER: I just want to say, this was in black and white. I want to put this on the screen. This is the phased vaccination distribution plan and it says right there, you are talking about health care workers, first responders, and phase 2 is prisons, group homes, and college dorms. But now you have people like the ACLU who says, quoting here, "The governor of Colorado repealed the death penalty in Colorado last year -- you were there. We do not sentence our neighbors to death. Be they may have committed a crime. Your callous statements are inconsistent with Colorado values. Do better, please." They're saying look, it’s better to have inmates at the top of the line.
BRAUCHLER: Absolutely disagree with that. Look, I've spent a career trying to protect the public from the people that are in prison right now. In no way am I saying they shouldn't be vaccinated. If we have to choose, though, I choose the 65 and older community before I choose convicted rapists, murderers, child molesters. That doesn't make any sense. The science doesn't support it. And here's the other thing that's interesting, the Center for Disease Control and wickedly conservative World Health Organization also agree with me, and now the governor.
BRAUCHLER: I think we ought to vaccinate all of the guards and the prison workers for sure because they're going to leave those prisons and go out into the community and possibly infect family members in the community. But those prisoners, they're already in quarantine. They’re not going anywhere, they’re not going to infect anybody else. And it's not infection we're worried about, what we're worried about is death, and we’ve been told over and over again that the 65 and older community will die if this happens. Just interestingly, the governor had said -- cajoled people before Thanksgiving and said if you have an extended family Thanksgiving, it’s like putting a loaded gun to grandma’s head. Ironically, his health department’s plan would give the vaccine to the guy who puts the loaded gun to grandma’s head before it gives it to grandma.