Schwarzenegger Lacked Political Courage When Vetoed Prison Condom Bill

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Prison Condom Bill

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California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) "political courage clearly failed him" when he recently vetoed a bill that would have provided prison inmates in the state with condoms in an effort to reduce the spread of HIV, a New York Times editorialsays. Although Schwarzenegger in his veto message "ordered up a pilotdistribution program for one as-yet unnamed prison," a "small,exploratory program falls short of the mass distribution effort thatthe system clearly needs," according to the editorial.

Publichealth officials worldwide have "long realized that condom distributionis central to any meaningful AIDS prevention effort," the editorialsays, adding that CDC"made that point last year when it urged states to consider startingcondom programs in prisons." In addition, such programs are operatingin Canada and much of the European Union, as well as in Los Angeles;New York City; Philadelphia; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C., the Times says.

Schwarzenegger"said he vetoed the bill because it conflicts with state law that makessexual contact among inmates illegal," the editorial says, adding,"That's self-defeating and a denial of the reality of life behind bars,and the governor seems to know it." Schwarzenegger "should have gonewith what he knows and signed this bill," according to the editorial.It concludes that his "pilot program needs to get under way quickly andshould be expanded as soon as possible. That's the only way to improveCalifornia's prison health care system and overall public health" (New York Times, 10/19).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . TheKaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service ofThe Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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