Schwarzenegger Lacked ‘Political Courage’ When He Vetoed Prison Condom Bill, Editorial Says
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) "political courage clearly failed him" when he recently vetoed a bill that would have provided prison inmates in the state with condoms in an effort to reduce the spread of HIV, a New York Times editorial says. Although Schwarzenegger in his veto message "ordered up a pilot distribution program for one as-yet unnamed prison," a "small, exploratory program falls short of the mass distribution effort that the system clearly needs," according to the editorial.
Public health officials worldwide have "long realized that condom distribution is central to any meaningful AIDS prevention effort," the editorial says, adding that CDC "made that point last year when it urged states to consider starting condom programs in prisons." In addition, such programs are operating in Canada and much of the European Union, as well as in Los Angeles; New York City; Philadelphia; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C., the Times says.
Schwarzenegger "said he vetoed the bill because it conflicts with state law that makes sexual contact among inmates illegal," the editorial says, adding, "That's self-defeating and a denial of the reality of life behind bars, and the governor seems to know it." Schwarzenegger "should have gone with what he knows and signed this bill," according to the editorial. It concludes that his "pilot program needs to get under way quickly and should be expanded as soon as possible. That's the only way to improve California's prison health care system and overall public health" (New York Times, 10/19).