Legislative Advocacy

August 31, 2014

Hon. Governor Edmund “Jerry” G. Brown, Jr.
California State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814
FAX: 916-558-3160 (2 pp)

Re: PLEASE SIGN AB 966 (BONTA): PROVIDE CONDOMS TO PREVENT HIV, STD’s

Dear Governor Brown:

As President of Beyond AIDS and on behalf of the Board of Directors, I am writing to urge that you sign AB 966. Beyond AIDS is a national organization, founded and directed in California, which is dedicated to controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The problem of prison-acquired HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections affects not only inmates but also partners in the community after release. AB 966 is therefore a step forward in the protection of women from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. It also encourages prisoners to take the type of personal responsibility for safety that they will need to practice after return home.

I have personally been a director of medical services and infection control at Patton State Hospital, where I directed a successful condom distribution program for years for an incarcerated population that included mentally ill inmates transferred from state prisons. No problems were encountered, and HIV/AIDS and STDs were doubtless prevented. Subsequently, I helped to write a special order for the Department of Mental Health that included education on condom use at all of the state hospitals.

This is the Legislature’s fourth attempt to make condoms available at state prisons. The previous similar bills included AB 1667 (Koretz) in 2005-2006 and AB 1334 (Swanson) in 2007, both of which were vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger. However, after his second veto, Schwarzenegger established a pilot program at Solano State Prison, which was evaluated in 2011 as a great success. This also demonstrated that the Administration has the authority to establish such programs. As you know, last year, you vetoed still another bill with the same purpose, AB 999 (Bonta). We understand that this was because you did not feel that you needed legislative authority, yet nothing further has been done to use that authority to make condoms available in prisons.

AB 966 assumes that you have the authority, but calls for a plan to provide condoms at all prisons within 5 years. The time has come for this life-saving measure. Please sign AB 966.

Sincerely,

Ron Hattis, MD, MPH
President, Beyond AIDS
909-838-4157

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