March 2, 2012 — New York Assembly member Barbara Clark (D) and state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D) are sponsoring a bill (S 323) that would bar possession of condoms as evidence of sex work in criminal cases, the New York Times reports. Similar measures have been introduced annually since 1999 but have not passed out of committee.
"Now there's more support," Sienna Baskin, co-director of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center, said, noting that the New York Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Public Health Association of New York City have compiled research to submit to lawmakers.
Prosecutors said they should be able to use condoms as evidence in trials. "Prosecutors in my office assess evidence on a case-by-case basis, determining what is appropriate in each situation," Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said.
Yvette Gonzales of the Positive Health Project said police often confiscate condoms when arresting sex workers. When sex workers are released from police custody, they often start working again but avoid using or carrying condoms out of fear of being arrested, according to Gonzales. The Sex Workers Project surveyed 35 sex workers and found that 16 did not carry condoms at times because of fear of encounters with the police. Fifteen said condoms had been destroyed or taken by police officers and three of those 15 said they had engaged in sex afterward without protection (Farmer, New York Times, 2/29).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership