How do you know someone is selling sex? It’s an old problem. In New York, police can detain you as a prostitute just because they find you carrying ‘too many’ condoms. This is an old technique used by police officers looking for an easy way to fulfill arrest quotas and keep their jobs. Here are main points posted by Katherine Franke on her Gender and Sexuality Law Blog on 20 November 2009.
- 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.
- A proposed bill in committee in the Senate and on the floor of the Assembly would prohibit the use of those and other condoms in seven enumerated prostitution-related crimes.
- New 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 bill is important for 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.
The Sex Workers Project (SWP) at the Urban Justice Center and the Center for Constitutional Rights have written legislative memos supporting the bill. There is an online petition to gather signatures to legislators.