MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Nassau County has decided to quit using condoms as evidence in prostitution cases.
The move is intended to help prevent the spread of disease among sex workers, Newsday reported. Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice’s office quietly put the policy change into effect last fall.
The county is believed to be the first in New York State to make the change.
Rice told the newspaper her office’s its ability to prosecute cases hasn’t been compromised. She said “the public health issue outweighs the public safety issue.”
The Long Island Association for AIDS Care said it supported the policy change. Chief Operating Officer Catherine Hart said if it’s “going to take away fear of sex workers using condoms, then we totally support” it.
Rice said she hoped to convince her counterparts elsewhere to follow her lead.
The practice of using condoms as evidence for prostitution charges has come under strong criticism in recent months.
In March, the Village Voice reported that some sex workers have complained that they picked up free condoms supplied by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene at distribution sites, only to be arrested by police officers when the condoms were found.
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