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LA County Sheriff May Opt to Expand Condom Program in Jails

Photo by 888bailbond/Flickr
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Sex in jail is illegal, but if it's going to happen, it had better be safe. At least that's the wisdom behind the eight-year-old program that "makes condoms available once a week to 300 inmates within the segregated unit" at the Men's Central Jail in Downtown Los Angeles, explains the Daily News.Now Sheriff Lee Baca is working to determine if the program should grow; "the expansion contemplated by Baca would double the distribution" of the Lifestyle brand condoms distrubted by the Center of Health Justice, a nonprofit with a goal to "empower people affected by HIV and incarceration to make healthier choices and advocates for the elimination of disparities between prisoner health and public health."

HIV continues to be a serious public health concern in LA County jails. "They spend about $2 million each year in federally refundable money on HIV/AIDS medication and identify about 65 new cases each month," and the jails house about 1,400 HIV infected inmates per year. Although it is against the law to engage in sex while incarcerated, the physical and financial consequences of the disease may indeed prompt Baca to expand the program. To date, "more than 43,655 condoms have been given [to] inmates." Should the program grow here in Los Angeles, other prisons in the state may adopt and/or expand similar programs.