Virginia prisoners to receive free feminine hygiene products

Virginia prisoners to receive free feminine hygiene products
Right now, pads are free at most facilities across Virginia, but many other jails and prisons in the state, don’t provide free tampons... or tampons at all. (Source: NBC12)
If the bill becomes law, The Department Of Corrections says the cost to prisons will be included in the budget and is estimated at $33,769. (Source: NBC12)
If the bill becomes law, The Department Of Corrections says the cost to prisons will be included in the budget and is estimated at $33,769. (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Gov. Ralph Northam signed House Bill 83 giving incarcerated women across Virginia would have access to free feminine hygiene products.

The law will take effect July 1.

The bill was introduced and sponsored by Del. Kaye Kory, D-Fairfax.

In a statement Kory said:

"HB 83 originated when I met with a group of women recently incarcerated in Virginia state correctional facilities, i.e. prisons. The women were all working with the volunteer support group, Friends of Guest House. Knowing that the female prison population in Virginia had grown by 300% over the past two years, I was eager to speak with them and learn how I might assist with their re-entry and learn how to stem the tide of women being sentenced to prison.

Right now, pads are free at most facilities across Virginia, but many other jails and prisons in the state, don't provide free tampons ... or tampons at all.

Tampons are often available through commissaries, meaning inmates have to pay for them.

In Henrico, only pads are offered to female inmates.

According to Sheriff Mike Wade, it's because of doctor recommendations.

Lisa Harvey, an inmate at Henrico County Jail, thinks access to free tampons would be beneficial to female inmates.

"It would definitely be a plus; it would definitely be a plus for the jail," Harvey said. "Being able to have another option as opposed to pads is excellent for women."

If the bill becomes law, the Department Of Corrections says the cost to prisons will be included in the budget and is estimated at $33,769.

VADOC says they have been providing both sanitary pads/napkins and tampons free of charge since around the first of the year. Previously, pads were free and tampons were available through commissary.

The Virginia Board of Corrections hasn't commented yet on the cost for local and regional jails.

"The problem of menstrual supplies in correctional facilities is nationwide," said Kory. "I am very proud that our General Assembly has unanimously passed legislation that will provide these essential products to incarcerated women - women who cannot deny their biological needs. Virginia was the first state in the nation to pass this legislation."

The governor's office requested to amend wording in HB83 to read "regulations" instead of "standards" in order to be congruent with the current wording in the Department of Corrections' manual for the operations of correctional facilities.

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