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Inmates Get Condom Vending Machines

Condom Vending Machines in Jail: Hooked Up or Turned Off?

Inmates in a California prison are about to have access to free condoms as part of a controversial new pilot program that hopes to limit the spread of STDs among inmates. The prison will get 10 condom vending machines that will be stocked with 1,200 condoms a week.

The hope is that the condoms will limit the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among inmates. A spokeswoman for the Center for Health Justice says, "We know risk behavior is being reduced. We will eventually be reducing HIV infections by this measure." Gov. Schwarzenegger has twice vetoed legislation on statewide condom distribution, but agreed to conduct a one-year trial.

And no, taxpayers will not be shelling out for the rubbers (that was my first question) — a nonprofit group is paying to supply the prison with the machines and condoms, which will cost a total of $60,000.

The prison guard's union is against the plan because condoms can be a place to hide drugs and weapons — not to mention the fact that sex in prison is illegal outside of conjugal visits. Prisoners will be informed of this nooky-is-against-the-law fact when they're told where the machines are.


Join The Conversation
nylorac nylorac 8 years
ok i haven't read all of the comments because there are just too many on this controversial issue, so i don't know if what i have to say has already been said. i do not mind paying my tax dollars for the enforcement of safe sex, especially in prisons where people, like it or not, are having sex. whether it's consensual or not, let's just be real and admit that they're going to have sex regardless if it's "illegal" or not. sex is a normal, fundamental human function. furthermore, aids and the prevention of it is a human rights issue. i doubt that when a prisoner enters into the punitive system, he is signing up for AIDS.
Community-Manager Community-Manager 8 years
Difference of opinion is what makes this discussion interesting but again, let's all hold off on making personal comments towards any other member. If there is a problem, please ping me.
cmill38 cmill38 8 years
It's illegal! Aren't they in there for illegal activity in the first place? Why even introduce the idea of this encouraging more illegal activities? It's like passing out condoms to 11 year olds telling them sex is okay. Sex is not okay for an 11 year old and it's not okay for inmates unless they've been granted a conjugal visit. The guards should also be listened to. This could potentially put them in danger.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
Honestly, it's the internet. If you don't care for someone's tone or comments, ignore them. No need to get all fussy.
ambie_white ambie_white 8 years
its a great idea. there are those, men and women, who are in jail and they need some action every now and then. there are inmates who are doing inmates and including officers who are getting in the action and if im wrong a good percentage of those do not use a condom. and for those who did what they had to do in jail and being unprotect, if they get out and end up seeing who ever and not tell anyone, then theres more spreading of the disease. so hello it is a good idea, cause what goes on there def. comes out back in the public.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
I think I can safely state my support for this program without whiling away a few minutes daydreaming about the mechanics of prison sex.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Stephley, I know what you meant but I'm sticking by my statement. If you're unwilling to think about every facet of the complicated prison system, then you really don't understand the issue. That's made fairly obvious by your statement that you err on the side of compassion. Prison is not about compassion, and you certainly can't get through to these people by appealing to compassion alone. Sex is a privilege they lost when they were incarcerated. STDs were certainly not part of the sentence, so we need to find ways to protect them without condoning more law breaking.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
It seems like the best thing to do is test t. If condoms-as-weapons become a problem, we can stop. But trying it seems a better option than trying to speculate as to how many prison rapists will want to use them.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Laine, thanks for the quotes you posted. If this one is true: "Smaller test programs have already been in place at county jails in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and supporters said so far there has never been a report of a condom being used as a weapon." then that is actually encouraging and makes me feel a bit better about this...if there have been smaller programs out there and noone is using these for "unintended purposes" so far....that's rather heartening.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
UnDave....cancelling membership, eh??? :ponder: Thanks for the tip!
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 8 years
Regarding the use of condoms for the purpose for which they're designed: Do any of us think that even non-rape sex in prison does *not* involve some degree of intimidation? And do we really think that someone capable of coercing or intimidating a person into sex would really bother to use a condom? The refusal to do so is just part of the whole power imbalance inherent in the situation. However, even though I don't believe this will make any measurable difference, I must reluctantly come down in favor of it. First, there's no cost to the state. Even if there were, $60,000 is probably about half of the cost of a guard for a year (factoring in benefits, etc.) Here's the clincher, though. Presuming that the prison population includes many poor and/or repeat offenders, odds are that the government will be responsible for the cost of his health care, and possibly that of his family. (That may be as Medicaid or while in prison.) So, it's good to do what we can to reduce the incidence of STDs or AIDs for which the taxpayers may have to provide care.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 8 years
No one seems to be addressing the guards' concerns about misuse of the condoms. It's not "compassion" if the trial puts staff at risk, they deserve our concern more than the inmates do. If this actually constitutes a problem, I'd like to know more about it. The article only says: "A union representing prison guard supervisors is opposed to the distribution of condoms. "The union said that condoms can be used as places to hide drugs or weapons. "'They can put stuff in them (condoms) and use them to throw at staff or other inmates,' said Chris Gold of the Prison Supervisor's Union." and "Smaller test programs have already been in place at county jails in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and supporters said so far there has never been a report of a condom being used as a weapon." It that's the only information available, I don't believe there's a demonstrated, valid risk.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Martini :rotfl: That sounds like my trips to Sam's Club. My wife cancelled our membership.
stephley stephley 8 years
Sorry Martini, I usually shop at Costco with my daughter - until she gets a job I can say no to anything she wants and a good threat to ground her puts a stop to the whining!
gigill gigill 8 years
First of all, I think popgoestheworld brings up some good points about it just being a trial, so there's no reason to completely flip out. Second of all, I agree with people who say that condoms in prison are a bad idea given that sex is illegal behind bars. It also could promote some danger in regards to sneaking in drugs or whatever...yes, I know they do it already but it's just another avenue for stuff to make its way in, and drugs = problems in prison. I hope this just doesn't make it easier for drugs to come in. Thirdly, I also agree with the idea that condoms should be available to the prisoners who would like to have consensual homosexual sex, but isn't there a way they could go out to those trailers (where conjugal vists are allowed) or whatever and have consensual sex in there? That way condoms are accessible to those people and not the general prison population who might have other ideas about what to do with them (ie. sneaking in drugs). Finally, I don't think having these machines inside the prison are going to help stop the spread of disease in gang rape situations etc. I think putting on a rubber is probably the last thing those prisoners have on their mind. That's my two cents.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Steph, I think we both agree that the entire system needs to be changed! I see what you are saying about wanting to be compassionate. Where I come from on this is having actually spent time working for DOJ and having to go into federal prisions sometimes. Granted, those were max security institutions, but there was nothing consentual going on there between the inmates, everything came down to power trips and who was in control. The stories the guards told were unbelievable. This pilot is most likely not going into that type of institution, so who really knows? Might be totally different than my experience. The Costco trip? Well, here's a little rundown of a typical trip to Costco with the man: Walk in, and at some point have to pass the electronics section. Him: "hey, look at that cool (fill in any electronic gadget here). And it's only $150! (or 200, 300, whatever)" Me: "were you looking to get one of those?" Him:"no, but it's such a good deal." Me: "Do we need that?" Him: "Huh?" The rest of the time is spent with me trying to convince him that spending $150 on something he wouldn't have gotten normally, ISN'T saving us money, which leaves him completely unconvinced. It is infutiating and nearly homicide-inducing every time!
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 8 years
Okay I was trying not to comment on this thread...but I can't help it. There are a couple of lessons that I've learned in this is lead by example, one is praise in public...discipline in private, one is never trust a bisexual, and one is if people want to have sex they will find a way. (I know I am extremely wise ;) ) Even in bootcamp where needless to say sex was not allowed people found a way. They were caught in the galley (cafeteria), the laundry room, a photo booth, and even in the dumpster. It's going to happen. So if it's going to happen regardless than we should provide a way for it to happen more safely. As the wise sage Steph pointed out not all prison sex is rape. That is my useful tip for the day. :cocktail:
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
I agree with everyone's point that if it is against the law than it is hypocritical to allow condoms to be distributed in prison. However, I am also concerned that many have chosen to ignore important points of the article. A little disciplined observation in this instance would have allowed some to recognize that if this is a government sanctioned trial than the law has been at least for the temporary nullified pending the results of the trial. As for the law it self to say that two consenting (adult prisoners) having sex in prison is illegal is not only in my opinion but in reality as useless as telling a teen age boy that they'll go blind, if. Many have also chosen to focus on the crime of rape. I think the general consensus is correct here as well that a rapist is not going to use a condom, so there for reason would have it that the condoms are not directed at rapists. Incarcerated rapists are a different issue requiring a different remedy. These (donated) condoms are directed at adults having consensual sex with other prisoners. Some may bemoan the cost of such a trial even though there are no tax dollars involved. However, the counter point of such a thought should be the cost of supporting medical treatment and pharmaceuticals to an HIV infected charge of the State for the rest of their life or until there's a cure using tax dollars. To sit there and say they shouldn't be having sex is fine but then you have to ask your self what dictates terms the shouldn'ts or the reality of the situation?
stephley stephley 8 years
I meant I didn't want to think that closely about what prison guards brought to work with them to enhance their sex lives. But boy, you nearly got me on that one, you are too clever!
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Well if you don't care to think about it that closely, you haven't earned an opinion.
stephley stephley 8 years
That may be so, I don't want to think about the details that closely. My point was, we're not just talking about rape.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Stephley, if a prisoner is having sex with a guard, it might not be forcible rape, but you can bet there's some intimidation involved. Furthermore, I imagine guards are allowed to bring their own condoms.
stephley stephley 8 years
I think if you check the statistics, not all sex in prison is rape, and some involves guards. No one is suggesting that the vending machines will in any way make prison sex legal or cool. The point would be to make it less potentially deadly.
lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
uh, no. illegal sex is not "cool" and saying people do it anyway does not change that. this makes me sick. when i think of sex in prison i think of gang rapes. i don't care if it's free or not, i don't like it. seems like giving a way to avoid leaving a dna sample.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
Oh great so now that condoms could possibly be introduced the fact that sex in prison is illegal is an issue. I just love selective inforcement it's so handy when you need it.
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