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Arizona Prisons Will Now Give Female Inmates Free Tampons

by Birthright: A War Story | Updated on 9.25.18

***This content was originally published on [azcentral] (, and featured in Birthright: A War Story's [newsletter] ( Read more about this issue, take action below, and help move the needle.*** *** The Arizona Department of Corrections announced Wednesday that it is changing its policy and will provide free tampons to inmates. Last week, the department also announced it would [triple the minimum number of pads] ( that inmates receive per month to 36, from 12. The change also waives a fee to make a medical appointment for any inmate who needed additional feminine-hygiene products because of medical issues. ***Take action below to record a personal video message about this issue. Your video may be included in Birthright's advocacy emails to lawmakers or social posts targeting key public officials.*** Previously, incarcerated women in Arizona who needed more than the 12 generic-brand pads had to ask an officer, who could deny the request, and were limited to possessing up to 24 at a time. Unlike in at least a dozen other states, if they wanted tampons, they had to buy them. The announcements come after Rep. Athena Salman, D-Tempe, [introduced House Bill 2222] ( with the goal of making it a law that the state must give incarcerated women an unlimited, free supply of various menstrual products. "This is another good step in the right direction for incarcerated women," she said in a statement Wednesday evening. "I hope in the future, we will see another step to codify this in law." **Change comes in response to bill** After making it past a heated first hearing Feb. 5 in front of the all-male House Military, Veterans and Regulatory Affairs Committee, [Rep. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, killed the bill] ( He and other lawmakers said the department could handle the issue with a policy change as opposed to a law. The statement confirms just that. **MORE ABOUT FEMALE INMATES, TAMPONS:** [After backlash, Arizona prison raises minimum number of free pads for women] ( [12 pads a month, no tampons: Is that enough for Arizona’s incarcerated women?] ( "Effective March 1, all female inmates, regardless of need, will receive a minimum baseline quantity each month of 36 sanitary napkins, tampons or a combination of both, based on their preference," the department's statement said. "Additional supplies will continue to be made available upon request, without charge, if needed." Arizona now joins 15 other states that provide free tampons for female inmates, according to information that Salman provided. Also, women in federal prisons started receiving free tampons after the Federal Bureau of Prisons issued a memo on the matter last year. Arizona has one state prison for women: the Arizona State Prison Complex-Perryville in Goodyear, which houses about 4,000 women. **Unclear if officers can still deny products** The statement does not clarify if inmates are restricted to possessing a maximum number at one time and suggests women could request an unlimited number of pads and tampons. The previous policy also allowed inmates to get extra free pads upon request but, during the bill hearing, former inmates spoke of prison officers who would deny their requests for extra pads. The statement does not address discipline or training for officers who dispense feminine-hygiene products. The change, [which was issued as a director's instruction] (, states that it will remain in effect until it is incorporated into three department orders, at which point inmates will be able to file grievances if the instructions are not followed.
Birthright: A War Story

Written by Birthright: A War Story

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