New York City police no longer seizing condoms as evidence of prostitution

Civil rights groups argue practice undercut efforts to combat STD's

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NEW YORK - Mayor Bill de Blasio says the New York Police Department will no longer confiscate unused condoms as evidence of prostitution by people suspected of being sex workers.

The policy change was announced Monday following criticism that the practice undermined efforts to promote condom use. De Blasio called it "the right thing to do."

Police had confiscated condoms ostensibly as evidence in criminal trials. Civil rights groups argued police seized them as a way to harass sex work suspects and said the practice undercut efforts to combat sexually transmitted diseases.

A 2010 study found more than half of sex workers surveyed in the city had condoms confiscated. Nearly a third said they sometimes didn't carry condoms for fear of arrest.

Prosecutors in Brooklyn and Long Island's Nassau County, and in San Francisco, already have stopped using condoms as evidence of prostitution.

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