September 10, 2013
The California Senate recently approved Assembly Member Rob Bonta's (D-Oakland) bill to provide condoms in adult prisons, even though the law bans sex while imprisoned. The bill was meant to prevent transmission of HIV, hepatitis C, and other diseases within prisons and other locations where prisoners are kept during parole. The law, known as AB999, would require the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to provide condoms in five prisons by 2015 and in all 33 adult prisons by 2020.
Democratic lawmakers viewed the bill as filling a public safety need as well as a way of saving the state funds. State Sen. Rod Wright (D-Los Angeles) explained that providing condoms was cheaper than treating the disease after inmates became infected. Other lawmakers interpreted the bill as encouraging inmates to break the law (sex in prison currently is a felony).
Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill in 2007 in which nonprofits and health organizations would have provided condoms to state prisoners. He requested that the corrections department test condom distribution in one prison. Inmates in California State Prison, Solano, could get free condoms from a vending machine for a year, beginning November 2008. In the 2011 report on this pilot program, health officials reported few problems and recommended expansion. At present, inmates who qualify for overnight family visits have limited permission to get condoms, as spouses and partners are allowed to bring up to 10 for such visits.
Daily Journal (Frankin, Ind.)
09.09.2013; Associated Press
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