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Condoms will no longer be used as evidence in New York City prostitution cases

Posted May 13, 2014 11:41 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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New York City police will no longer seize condoms as evidence in three kinds of prostitution cases, the city’s police commissioner announced on Monday.

The policy change is part of an effort to encourage safe-sex practices, report the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

The city will no longer seize condoms as evidence in cases involving prostitution, prostitution in a school zone and loitering for the purposes of prostitution, according to the Los Angeles Times. They will still be used as evidence, however, in sex-trafficking cases. Police Commissioner William Bratton said the approach allows prosecutors to use the evidence "against the vast criminal enterprise associated with prostitution."

In a 2012 Human Rights Watch report, prostitutes had reported that police harassed them and claimed the condoms they carried were evidence of wrongdoing. One prostitute had replaced condoms with plastic bags.

Since the report, San Francisco and Washington have also limited condoms as evidence in prostitution cases, according to Emma Caterine, a community organizer for Red Umbrella Project. She told the Los Angeles Times she hopes other cities will do the same.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio applauded the decision. "A policy that actually inhibits people from safe sex is a mistake and is dangerous,” he said. The city’s five district attorneys also supported the change in policy.

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