Pennsylvania: City Considering Greater Condom Access in Prisons
November 3, 2006
Philadelphia officials are considering a policy to increase condom access in prison by allowing inmates to purchase them through the commissary list.
Since Mayor W. Wilson Goode instituted the policy in 1988, condoms have been available to inmates through workers from the city's AIDS Activities Coordinating Office (AACO) and at daily sick call. However, some prisoners have reported that guards confiscate the condoms. AIDS advocates such as ACT UP-Philadelphia are pressing officials to remove barriers to condom access and make clear they are not forbidden.
Robert Eskind, spokesperson for Prisons Commissioner Leon A. King II, said discussions with AIDS advocates are continuing, but no decision has been reached. "We are reviewing the policy," he said, acknowledging problems with the current policy. "There were concerns that inmates were afraid to ask for them because they were afraid it was contraband. It's a public health issue. People who are in jail should have the same level of protection as people on the street." AACO officials could not be reached for comment.
"We're really, really happy that we have a prison system that doesn't have its head in the sand," said ACT UP organizer Jose de Marco. "This is a health issue."
In most jurisdictions, condoms are contraband since inmates are forbidden sexual contact, and condoms could also be used for smuggling. However, correctional facilities in Vermont, New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles make condoms accessible to inmates, according to CDC.
11.03.2006; Mitch Lipka