JDI IN THE NEWS - 2008

NPR Program Features Discussions on Efforts To Promote Condom Distribution in Prisons To Reduce Spread of HIV, Kaiser Network, May 16, 2008.

NPR's "News & Notes" on Thursday included two discussions about the spread of HIV in prisons and efforts to promote condom distribution to inmates.

In the first segment, Keith DeBlasio, a former inmate who contracted HIV in prison, and Lovisa Stannow, executive director of Stop Prisoner Rape, discussed the spread of HIV through rape and consensual sex in prisons. Stannow, whose group supports the distribution of condoms in prisons, said, "It's a public health issue, and it's also a human right issue," adding that "incarceration simply should not lead to serious illness and premature death."

Stannow also discussed the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, which was passed in 2003, "News & Notes" reports. She said, "It may not have trickled down yet to the actual facility level, but we certainly see a much more serious discussion among corrections administrators and lawmakers and policymakers, that even five years ago you would still hear wardens and prison managers claim that sexual abuse was not really a problem. And we don't hear that any more." She added, "The question is now, how do we address the problem?" (Chideya [1], "News & Notes," NPR, 5/15).

In the second segment, the Rev. Dorris Green, director of community affairs for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, discussed the group's support of HIV screening and condom distribution in Illinois prisons. According to "News & Notes," the "state of Illinois has been resistant" to the proposals.

Green said the group is working on "educating our legislators about HIV" and sex in prisons, adding, "We have a hard time here in this state convincing our legislators that people are actually having sex in prison." The group also is developing a demonstration project that could include condom distribution in a state prison, she said (Chideya [2], "News & Notes," NPR, 5/15).