LEGISLATURE | A bill that would have created a pilot program for distributing free condoms to inmates in California state prisons was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The controversial legislation authored by Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta intended to protect inmates against the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS; and the general public after prisoners served out their terms and returned to the general population. Critics of the bill disagreed with the premise by noting sexual relations among state prisoners is illegal.

In vetoing the legislation last Friday, Brown sidestepped the realization sex among prisoners is pervasive and, instead, focused on legal conjugal visits. “The Department [of Corrections and Rehabilitation] currently allows family visitors to bring condoms for the purpose of the family overnight visitation program,” said Brown in his veto message. “While expansion of the program may be warranted, the Department should evaluate and implement this expansion carefully and within its existing authority.”

In testimony at an Assembly committee last April, Bonta urged for greater distribution of condoms since inmates were 8-10 times more likely to contract sexually-transmitted diseases while incarcerated. Distribution is also cheap, he added, at a price of just $1.39 per prisoner.