Friday, August 25, 2006

Things that Shock our Sensibilities

Today, the state of California is waiting to hear if Gov. Schwarzenegger is going to sign a bill allowing the state prisons systems to distribute condoms by health care agencies in its state prisons. At present, it is illegal for prisons to distribute or for innmates to have in their possession condoms. The exceptions are those who live in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, the District of Columbia, Vermont and Philadelphia.

As you might imagine, such a reality is shocking. Most prison officials recognize that while drug use, sexual activity, and tattooing are illegal in the prison system, most admit that all three happen with regularity. And, since many prisoners enter into prison already infected with various sexually transmitted diseases as well as HIV, the likihood of transmission is exceedingly high.

It is estimated that of those who are incarcerated, the HIV infection rate and Hepatitis C are 8-10 times higher than the general population outside of prisons. This is an alarming rate especially when you consider that there is no way for an inmate to prevent themselves from being infected during sexual activity. Admittedly, rapists probably wouldn't use a condom if there was one but not all sexual activity in prisons is violent.

You can read a report about this by going here.

Given our current desire to lock up just about anyone from just about any offense, we as a soceity need to take greater responsibility when we create such vast communities of offenders. We need to get past the notion that if we don't provide condoms, then inmates won't have sex. And if they do, then any disease they get is to their blame. To do otherwise is criminal in my opinion. This is a serious issue and for the church to remain silent is sinful.

It's high time we in the church realize that neglecting the poor, imprisoned, and widowed is a moral failure and a sin. And, not only ought we to recognize our sin, but we should find solutions to the problems we create.

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