State rule requires feminine hygiene products for female detainees
From The Times Union:
Police lockups will be required to have tampons, sanitary napkins on hand
ALBANY — Police lockups will be required to have feminine-hygiene products on hand for female detainees under a new state rule adopted Wednesday.
The rule from the state Commission of Correction mandates that tampons and sanitary napkins shall be made available to all female detainees at a facility’s expense. State Department of Corrections facilities, state Office of Children and Family Services-run juvenile secure facilities and county jails already are obligated to maintain a supply of feminine hygiene products.
According to information submitted alongside the proposed rule in May, there were approximately 87,000 women in police lockups in 2016, 55,000 of whom were detained in New York City. The NYPD already has a policy requiring that feminine hygiene products be made available.
“While the commission is confident that the majority of police lockups outside of New York City have a similar policy or practice, it is likely that female detention is so infrequent in smaller facilities that authorities are unprepared when the need for feminine hygiene products arises,” the rule’s regulatory impact statement stated.
The commission estimates that for the 280 police lockups outside New York City, the average annual cost per lockup would be $5.71.
The new rule follows an April New York Times story that detailed the account of a woman arrested in Queens who was provided only a sterile gauze pad — used as a bandage and without an adhesive — when she asked for a sanitary pad.
The Times reported that pads and tampons can become bargaining chips used by correction officers to maintain control, or traded among women who are behind bars, while menstruation can be treated as an inconvenience in some jails.
A 2015 report from the Correctional Association of New York’s Women in Prison Project found that within the state prison system, a majority of women said they did not receive enough sanitary napkins per month. The report also found that most women could not afford to buy sanitary supplies sold in prison commissaries.
Legislation to provide for feminine hygiene products at no cost to inmates at state and local women’s correctional facilities, or any other state or local facility where women are detained by law enforcement, did not pass muster during this year’s legislative session.
“We are pleased to see that the State Commission of Correction has addressed the basic need for adequate sanitary supplies for women in county facilities,” said Gail Smith, director of the Women in Prison Project. “No women should be put in the humiliating position of not having sanitary supplies when they need them and having to ask corrections officers for extras or face humiliating requirements in order to receive necessary supplies.”
Article by Matt Hamilton
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