Lambda Legal Urges Access to Condoms in California Prisons

Browse By

Blog Search

August 29, 2013

Today, Lambda Legal submitted a letter to the California Senate Appropriations Committee in support of AB 999, a bill that will give the state’s prison population access to condoms. 

The letter points out the significant benefits to the health of inmates, as well as to the public health of the communities to which they will return, that will result from providing inmates not only with sexual health messages, but also with the tools to implement safer sex habits. 

Recent studies have demonstrated that providing condoms to inmates reduces the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections without increasing sexual activity. Programs in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., jails and a pilot program within one California prison have also proved that providing condoms to inmates does not increase the risk of security breaches.

Furthermore, there is the potential for significant cost savings to California taxpayers. Because the condoms and dispensing machines will be paid for through private donations, the minimal costs incurred by the state in administering the program will be offset by savings in health care costs if just 2.7 to 5.4 transmissions of HIV are prevented per year.  

Given the significant public health benefits, the lack of impact upon prison order and security, and the potential cost savings, Lambda Legal strongly encourages California to join jurisdictions across the world—including most of the countries in the European Union, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia and Iran—in implementing this harm reduction policy.