California Assembly Approves Bill That Would Allow Groups To Distribute Condoms to Prison Inmates
The California Assembly on Wednesday approved 41-34 a bill (AB 1677) that would allow not-for-profit or public health organizations to distribute condoms, dental dams or other sex-related protective devices to the state's 162,000 prison inmates, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports. Supporters of the bill, sponsored by Assembly member Paul Koretz (D), say it would help curb the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in the state. "Our prisons are HIV infection factories, and we are paying tens of millions of dollars a year for not making condoms available," Koretz said, adding that the Department of Corrections spends about $14 million annually on HIV/AIDS-related medications (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 6/2). The federal government estimates that about 30% of federal male prison inmates engage in sex acts with other male inmates. However, the state corrections department does not track the number of inmates caught or punished for engaging in such acts (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/1). However, opponents of the bill say it would encourage inmates to engage in sexual intercourse in prisons, which is illegal in the state. "This is absolute insanity," Assembly member Dennis Mountjoy (R) said, adding, "What you are doing is facilitating lawbreakers." The bill now goes to the state Senate (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 6/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.