Controversy is brewing in California, where Rob Bonta, an Oakland Democratic Assemblyman, is proposing that prisons in the state provide condoms to all prisoners. Only one state, Vermont, currently makes condoms readily available to inmates, and some say it encourages illegal sexual activity.
Condoms are currently banned in the majority of prisons across the nation aside from a few exceptions, like conjugal visits. Having sexual relations in prison is a felony in California, and opponents of the initiative believe it will encourage sexual activity among prisoners. Others believe the condoms could be used to smuggle banned substances. However, supporters are arguing that providing protection will help cut STD rates and foster good habits.
STDs in Prisons
Even with laws banning sex in prisons, it does still happen. And without resources available, most sex goes unprotected. Sexually transmitted disease rates in prison communities are notably higher than the general population’s. The University of California, San Francisco, estimated that cases of HIV could be up to 10 times higher than in regular society and may affect 1% of California’s prison population.
Testing the Proposal
Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill in 2007 that would have provided condoms to prisoners, but he did ask for the idea to be tested in a California State Prison. About 800 inmates were given access to condoms for one year starting in November 2008. The Vermont Department of Corrections has been offering condoms to inmates since 1992. Neither program created noteable security issues. On a lower scale, some jails in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. provide protection when requested.
What do you think about condoms in prisons? If inmates are having sex no matter what, it may be a good idea to provide them with resources to protect themselves. For more awareness on HIV and STD prevention, let ARCpoint Labs be a resource for you.