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Why Did AHF Give Up On Prisoners and Go After Porn Stars?

An Op-Ed offering from director Mo Reese

Why Did AHF Give Up On Prisoners and Go After Porn Stars?

If you have not read my previous open letter to AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), you can find it here.

In 2007, AB 1334 was introduced to the California State Assembly. It was “an act to amend sections 286 and 288a of, and to add Section 5012 to, the Penal Code, relating to corrections.”

According to AB 1334: “This bill would enact the Inmate and Community Public Health and Safety Act, which would require the secretary to allow any nonprofit or health care agency to distribute sexual barrier protection devices, as specified. The bill would state that the distribution of those devices shall not be considered a crime nor shall it be deemed to encourage sexual acts between inmates. The bill would specify that possession of one of those devices shall not be used as evidence of illegal activity for purposes of administrative sanctions.”

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In 2007, AIDS Healthcare Foundation was in full support of this amendment to the law. In their argument in support of AB 1334, they stated:

"As the largest HIV specialized primary care provider in the nation with the largest prevention and testing program in California and an HIV testing program in L.A. County jails, AHF recognizes correctional facilities as one of many fronts in the battle against HIV and AIDS.  This measure authorizing the director of the state department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to allow county health departments and health care organizations to distribute prophylactics and dental dams to the incarcerated is a major step in the fight against HIV transmission not just among prison inmates but the communities to which they are paroled.  As everyone is aware statistics show that the percentage of new cases of HIV among Latinas and African-American women exceed their percentage in the general population.  Disproportionate representation of communities of color in the inmate population and the higher rates of HIV infection make this proposal an essential tool in implementing a good public health policy regarding HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases."

AB 1334 passed in the State Assembly and Senate, but it was vetoed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger because “the provisions of this bill conflict with Penal Code Sections 286 (e) and 288 (e), which make sexual activity in prison unlawful.” He added: “However, condom distribution in prisons is not an unreasonable public policy and it is consistent with the need to improve our prison healthcare system and overall public health.”

In 2007, AHF fully supported having condoms provided to inmates in California state prisons. But in 2013, when AB 999—the Prisoner Protections for Family and Community Health Act—was presented, they were not one of the registered supporters of the bill. AB 999 was introduced just one week after Assemblymember Isadore Hall III introduced AB 332—a bill that requires the use of condoms and other protective barriers whenever acts of vaginal or anal intercourse are filmed during the course of porn production.

The California state prison population has been reduced due to court order by approximately 25,000 since 2006. That’s 25,000 members of the former inmate population out in the general population. How many of those former prisoners had unprotected sexual intercourse while in prison, contracted HIV or other STIs, and have now been released—untested—back into our communities? How many of those prisoners went back to California's 64th District, which is represented by Assemblymember Isadore Hall III? Are Assemblymember Hall’s constituents aware that he is more concerned about regulating porn than protecting them from released prisoners with HIV and other STIs?

Are AHF donors aware that President Michael Weinstein is so preoccupied with his obsession to regulate porn that he’s ignoring a bill that could actually protect the public? If AHF is as concerned about public health as it has claimed to be, why did it give up on prisoners and go after porn stars?






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Mo Reese

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