Saturday, February 18, 2006

No Condoms in U.S. Prisons

My partner is a health care provider specializing in infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis. She also teaches to other health care providers about the above mention diseases. Like most partners I get dragged (willing) to some medical conference usually on HIV and we stay in a really nice hotel or resort and I get to relax while she goes off to teach or to learn depending on the situation. This week we are in the middle of 'No Where's Land' some where in Georgia at this really nice resort.

Sometimes I attend some of the talks usually because of the free food :-) but mostly because I find the subject matter interesting. Well, bright and early this morning I learned that Prisoners do not get condoms and it is also illegal to give prisoners condoms to use. This required some investigating on my part because I could not believe it.

Our prison system population is going up and not down and the HIV rates in prisoners while incarcerated is going up not down. Is our governement in total denial? And are they just turning a blind eye to reality?

Our Government needs to acknowledge that people in prison have sex. This is not a gay issue this is a human issue. The federal government estimates that about 30% of federal male prison inmates engage in sex acts with other male inmates. We need to make sure that we slow or stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases so that as few people as possible get out of prison with infections that endanger the larger society. Also, we don't want to spread more infections in our prison systems. It is cheaper to give prisoners condoms to protect themselves than it is for the state to pay for medical care on a disease that could have been prevented.

As of 2002 (could not find current data):
Four jail systems, in New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, and two prison systems, in Vermont and Mississippi, make condoms available to their inmates. Most correctional facilities in the US have chosen not to distribute condoms due to three major concerns: 1) that condoms would be used as weapons; 2) that the condoms would be used to hide contraband; 3) and/or that the distribution of condoms would implicitly suggest that sex is permitted.
Now the state of California allows condoms in their prisons.

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