Although it is 2020, jails and prisons still ignore the special needs of their female inmates. For example a substantial
number of jails and prisons do not provide free menstrual products. Jail-prison administration’s view regarding menstrual products for female inmates started changing in 2017, when a U.S. Department of Justice memo required federal prisons to provide hygienic products to female inmates. This memo only covered federal women inmates.
In 2019, Virginia passed House Bill 83, which mandated that the State Board of Corrections and the director of the Department of Corrections adopt a standard procedure providing female inmates, with free feminine hygiene products.
Before this law was passed, many Virginia correctional facilities were providing inmates with very low-quality and a limited supply of pads, according to Shasheen Khurana, (Virginia Menstrual Equity Coalition). Inmates would have to request the products and were only given one or two without charge. If a woman inmate needed more, they would have to pay.
In 2017, the Coalition sent letters to 70 different Virginia jails inquiring, if they were aware of the new hygiene law and were they complying with the requirements. Only 12 jails responded; some indicated compliance, other jails were not aware of the new law, or they could not comply, because of costs. This callous attitude towards the needs of women inmates is prevalent among other states.
According to the Washington Post, in 2018, incarcerated women in Maryland were supposed to receive free sanitary products, but state officials learned they were not provided and some facilities were still charging women inmates for hygiene items.
This misogynistic attitude toward women inmates is shown by some state’s policies toward pregnant inmates. During the last fifteen years, only twenty one states have enacted regulations restricting shackling, during labor and post-delivery recuperation. The American Medical Association in a 2010 resolution called the practice of shackling pregnant inmates unsafe, medically dangerous, and “barbaric.” Many physicians and nurses assert that shackling pregnant inmates during any stage of the pregnancy is damaging to the pregnant mothers and their babies.
It is time to end ignorant, inhumane, treatment against female inmates.