- New York City spends more than $1 million every year to distribute free condoms to combat unintended pregnancies and diseases such as AIDS. Yet city police are allowed to confiscate those condoms as evidence of prostitution.
That conflict is behind the latest legislative proposal to make New York the first state to prohibit condoms - specifically the existence of multiple condoms - from being used as evidence in prostitution cases, a widespread practice that advocates say undermines decades of public health goals.
"There may be no actual evidence, and the condom is their only way to trying to prove it," said Hawk Kinkaid, a former male escort who now advocates on their behalf in New York City. "The fear that this will be used against you - it prevents people from being able to protect themselves."
The practice has come under criticism across the country, with prosecutors in San Francisco, Brooklyn and Nassau County in suburban New York City announcing last year they will no longer use condoms as evidence in prostitution cases.
Nassau County (N.Y.) District Attorney Kathleen Rice said she decided the benefits of condoms as evidence don't outweigh the public health impact. Most prostitution cases don't go to trial, and trafficking cases typically require much greater evidence.