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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bid to provide condoms to California prison inmates clears hurdle

ReutersCondoms could eventually be distributed to California prison inmates under a bill passed in the Democratic-controlled state Assembly on Monday, setting the stage for potential pushback from Governor Jerry Brown, who vetoed a similar measure last fall.

The bill, which must still be passed by the state Senate, directs California to develop a five-year plan to hand out condoms in the state prison system, where existing law already criminalizes sex acts between inmates, regardless of consent.

Opponents of the plan have predicted prisoners in the overcrowded system could use condoms to store contraband rather than for safe sex, while backers say it could help cut down on high rates of sexually transmitted diseases among inmates.

"Sexually transmitted disease is a tragic reality of life in prison," said Oakland Democratic Assemblyman Rob Bonta, who introduced the bill.

Bonta said the rate of sexually transmitted diseases that can be prevented by condom use was considerably higher in prisons than in the general population. In particular, he said the rate of infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is as much as 10 times higher in prisons than among the public. continue reading...

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