California Senate Passes Measure That Would Provide Prison Inmates With Condoms To Help Reduce Spread of HIV
The California Senate on Thursday voted 21-18 to approve a measure (AB 1334) that would provide prison inmates in the state with condoms in an effort to reduce the spread of HIV, the Los Angeles Times reports (McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, 9/7).
A similar measure (AB 1677) was vetoed last year by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). The bill would have allowed not-for-profit organizations to distribute condoms in prisons. The bill, proposed by Assembly member Paul Koretz (D), would have allowed public health organizations to distribute condoms, dental dams or "other sex-related protective devices" to California's 162,000 prison inmates. The bill was sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, AIDS Project Los Angeles and the Southern California HIV Advocacy Coalition (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/20/06).
According to the Times, there was a "largely partisan split" over the new legislation. The bill, sponsored by Assembly member Sandre Swanson (D), would require prison officials to allow agencies to distribute condoms and dental dams to prison inmates. Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas (D) argued in favor of the bill, saying it is needed to address the high number of HIV cases among prisoners. The bill is needed to help the state "fight this dreaded phenomenon," Ridley-Thomas said. Sen. George Runner (R) said distributing condoms would condone illegal behavior. "It seems incredibly inconsistent for us to say that this behavior is not acceptable in prisons and then to provide devices to assist in that behavior," he said. Supporters of the new measure say they hope that they have addressed the administration's concerns with the previous bill and that it will be signed into law this year (Los Angeles Times, 9/7).