CALIFORNIA- A California lawmaker wants to offer free condoms to state prison inmates to limit the spread of HIV and other diseases.
State law prohibits sex between inmates, creating a conflict that concerns opponents of the legislation. But Democratic Assemblyman of Oakland, Rob Bonta, says it happens anyway and it's time to give inmates a way to practice safe sex to reduce an infection rate of STDs that is much higher than in the general population.
The proposal has passed in his house and is in the Senate and is spurring some interesting conversation. His proposal would require that condoms be made available in five prisons by 2015 and to each prison no later than 2020. The state has tried a distribution program before on a temporary basis.
Supporters say this would go a long way in cutting the spread of disease in prisons themselves but also in the communities where felons are parolled into.
Detractors say giving inmates protection would only encourage breaking of the law. Some worry that besides the illegal sexual activity, condoms could also be used to smuggle or hide contraband. That hasn't been too much of a problem where they are allowed in lower level jails in San Francisco and Los Angeles.