Los Angeles HIV-Positive Prostitute Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison
Donnie Ray Bobo, who first learned that he was HIV-positive more than 10 years ago while in prison, on Tuesday was sentenced by a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge to 10 years in prison for prostitution, the Los Angeles Times reports. Bobo pleaded no contest to the felony prostitution charge, marking his fifth prostitution conviction since he learned of his HIV-positive status, according to the Times. Although prostitution is usually a misdemeanor charge, someone can be charged with a felony if they have previously tested positive for HIV. Judge John Doyle said that he gave Bobo the 10-year sentence to "protect society." Doyle said, "[Bobo's] background is grim, his prospects are even more grim, and his characteristics are such that every time he gets out of prison, he gets back on the street and renders someone else susceptible to the HIV virus." Bella Dilworth, Bobo's lawyer, said that judges "overreact to a lot of tragic things." Laurie Levenson, a Loyola Marymount University law professor, said that the sentence was "harsh" but the circumstances were "unique," adding, "They're almost treating it the same way as serious assaults or an attempted-murder case." Levenson said that she is unsure of what the results of the sentence will be due to the potential spread of HIV in prison, according to the Times. "There are big question marks as to whether this is the solution for dealing with people with HIV," Levenson said (Bonilla, Los Angeles Times, 4/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.