At the same time many states and municipalities are reluctant to distribute condoms in prisons, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca may expand an eight-year-old program at Men's Central Jail that distributes condoms in a unit for gay men, the Los Angeles Times reports.
"The nonprofit Center for Health Justice has been visiting the jail almost weekly since 2001, when Baca approved a small but groundbreaking program that allowed the health group to pass out prophylactics to inmates in a segregated unit for gay men. [The Center] has distributed more than 43,655 condoms to inmates since the project began, but said that is not nearly enough. ... The sheriff is pondering whether to expand it by doubling the number of condoms distributed to the 300 inmates within the segregated unit. It would be one of the most aggressive measures in the nation's jails and prisons to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS, experts say."
LA County Sheriff officials say about 65 new HIV cases are detected each month. On average "there are about 1,400 people in L.A. County jails with HIV each year" and the health cost is about $2 million per year.
Currently, only several jails in the United States—including some in San Francisco, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.—offer condoms to inmates. Condoms are also available to prisoners in Vermont. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) has sponsored legislation that would require condoms in federal prisons.