nyc-condomNew York’s police and prosecutors should not be permitted to introduce condoms as evidence of prostitution and prostitution-related offenses, according to the students who work in Columbia’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic.  The Clinic held a tabling day yesterday at Columbia Law School in support of a New York State bill that would enact this prohibition into law.  Over 50 Columbia Law students signed postcards to legislators to support the bill, sending a strong message to legislators that sound public health policy militates against the use of condoms as evidence of prostitution.

Under current law, police and prosecutors can and do use condoms to prove prostitution and related offenses, such as patronizing a prostitute, promoting prostitution, and maintaining a premises for prostitution.  The bill is critical to protecting public health in New York and deterring police officers from using condoms as pretextual justification for arbitrary search and seizure.  Criminalization of condom possession directly conflicts with New York’s longstanding public policy of encouraging condom use, a policy it has effected in part by distributing free condoms since 1971.  The proposed bill, which is in committee in the Senate and on the floor of the Assembly, would prohibit the use of those and other condoms inBill 3856 seven enumerated prostitution-related crimes.  Law enforcement officials would still be able to use condoms as evidence in rape and sexual assault cases, as they would in any other type of case not named in the bill.

The Clinic became aware of law enforcement’s use of condoms as evidence of prostitution during the course of its collaboration with community-based advocacy organizations in New York City, including the Sex Workers Project (SWP) at the Urban Justice Center.  The SWP is spearheading the effort to pass the bill.  The Urban Justice Center and the Center for Constitutional Rights have written legislative memos supporting the bill; the SWP has also organized an online petition to gather signatures to legislators.

Sarah Morris, SJ Lee, and Rena Stern, Sexuality & Gender Law Clinic students, are  in charge of the project.

33 comments

  1. Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic Supports “No-Condoms-as-Evidence-of–Prostitution” Bill http://ff.im/-bLRIV

  2. FYI:

    Title of this post should read:

    Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic Supports “No Condoms-as-Evidence-of–Prostitution” Bill

    Otherwise, when reading this heading it sounds like NOT having condoms would be considered evidence.

  3. Um….

    You say that NYS law says they can use condoms to convict people of prostitution, but you don’t provide ANY cites of the relevant NYS Criminal Procedure Law or Penal Law.

    Pony up the citations, because at this point I call BS. If it’s so common, where’s the URLs to the law?

  4. [...] One never has to work very hard to find evidence of our government’s abject stupidity.  Today’s example comes to us from the State of New York, where sex worker advocates are working hard to decriminalize the possession of condoms. [...]

  5. RT @sexgenderbody: Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic Supports “No-Condoms-as-Evidence-of–Prostitutionâ€* Bill http://ff.im/-bLRIV

  6. Tristan, I would read the above as saying that current law doesn’t rule out use of condoms as evidence, and so police and prosecutors are frequently using condoms as evidence. Like you, I would be surprised if current law endorsed use of condoms as evidence explicitly, but it wouldn’t need to as long as it also didn’t prohibit it, and I don’t see why you think the post implied anything stronger.

    It might be nice to have a citation of cases of such use by police and prosecutors, I suppose, though I’m not remotely skeptical (I’ve read of such things elsewhere, though I haven’t researched New York specifically).

  7. GODSFUCK, NEW YORK, DON'T BE CHINA. http://bit.ly/4UktG4 #GODDAMNEVERYTHING

  8. Carry too many condoms in NY, you could be arrested as a prostitute. http://ff.im/-bLRIV

  9. It’s absolutely asinine that people can be put in jail because they are carrying a bag of condoms. This is just another example of the absurdity that arises when the state attempts to legislate morality.

  10. “You say that NYS law says they can use condoms to convict people of prostitution, but you don’t provide ANY cites of the relevant NYS Criminal Procedure Law or Penal Law.”

    You are absolutely naive if you think condoms are not used as evidence in sex offense cases. A sex offender in Florida named “Bill Kamal” — a once-popular local weatherman — was charged with trying to have sex with a minor. As evidence against him in trial a condom found in his glove compartment was used.

    So it is a fact that carrying a condom is used by police as evidence for an alleged sex offense, or as grounds for further searching. It is not far-fetched to assume that this would extend from alleged sex offenders like Bill Kamal to New York prostitutes.

  11. Gender & Sexuality Law Blog » Blog Archive » Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic Supports http://ff.im/-bLRIV

  12. [...] and was shocked to discover that safe-sex devices have been used as evidence in my own hometown, New York — which is particularly ridiculous given that New York City has been distributing free [...]

  13. [...] and was shocked to discover that safe-sex devices have been used as evidence in my own hometown, New York — which is particularly ridiculous given that New York City has been distributing free [...]

  14. [...] and was shocked to discover that safe-sex devices have been used as evidence in my own hometown, New York — which is particularly ridiculous given that New York City has been distributing free [...]

  15. [...] and was shocked to discover that safe-sex devices have been used as evidence in my own hometown, New York — which is particularly ridiculous given that New York City has been distributing free [...]

  16. [...] and was shocked to discover that safe-sex devices have been used as evidence in my own hometown, New York — which is particularly ridiculous given that New York City has been distributing free [...]

  17. [...] and was shocked to discover that safe-sex devices have been used as evidence in my own hometown, New York — which is particularly ridiculous given that New York City has been distributing free [...]

  18. [...] and was shocked to discover that safe-sex devices have been used as evidence in my own hometown, New York — which is particularly ridiculous given that New York City has been distributing free [...]

  19. [...] and was shocked to discover that safe-sex devices have been used as evidence in my own hometown, New York — which is particularly ridiculous given that New York City has been distributing free [...]

  20. [...] and was shocked to discover that safe-sex devices have been used as evidence in my own hometown, New York — which is particularly ridiculous given that New York City has been distributing free [...]

  21. [...] and was shocked to discover that safe-sex devices have been used as evidence in my own hometown, New York — which is particularly ridiculous given that New York City has been distributing free [...]

  22. [...] and was shocked to discover that safe-sex devices have been used as evidence in my own hometown, New York — which is particularly ridiculous given that New York City has been distributing free [...]

  23. [...] and was shocked to discover that safe-sex devices have been used as evidence in my own hometown, New York — which is particularly ridiculous given that New York City has been distributing free [...]

  24. Columbia Law Gender and Sexuality Blog: Law Clinic Supports “No-Condoms-as-Evidence-of–Prostitution” Bill http://tinyurl.com/yczozab

  25. [...] used as probable cause and justification of arrest for sexwork in Washington DC, San Francisco, and New York. While bills to end this are working their way through the political process in some places, this [...]

  26. [...] used as probable cause and justification of arrest for sexwork in Washington DC, San Francisco, and New York. While bills to end this are working their way through the political process in some places, this [...]

  27. Next time come to the School of Social Work! As President of the Men’s Caucus, I would absolutely support this work and help organizers get the space needed to collect signatures, write postcards, and disseminate information. Please see our website for more great work that we’re doing at CUSSW.

  28. I am really loving the theme/design of your website. Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility issues? A few of my blog readers have complained about my site not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Firefox. Do you have any advice to help fix this problem?

  29. Hello would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using? I’m looking to start my own blog soon but I’m having a hard time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S My apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  30. Toller Artikel. Sicher überhaupt nicht verkehrt, sich durch der Thematik intensiver auseinander zusetzen. Ich soll bestimmt diese nächsten Beitraege im Auge behalten.

  31. Hello my family member! I wish to say that this post is awesome, great written and come with almost all significant infos. Iâ??d like to see more posts like this.

  32. This is very bad to read :(

    But thanks for sharing.

    Take care and great blog you have here.

    Joane

  33. Well its about time..

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