Female inmates in Arizona were hoping that House Bill 2222 would pass successfully. After all, incarcerated women in this state currently try to manage their menstrual cycle with only 12 pads a month. If more are needed, the women need to request them from an officer or purchase them. Unlike in many other states, tampons must be purchased in prisons in Arizona.
According to CNN, buying these products does not come easy. A 16-package of pads costs inmates $3.20 and a 10-pack of tampons is $2.05. The incarcerated women are paid 15 cents an hour, meaning they would need to work 13-21 hours to buy one package of feminine products.
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Any woman who menstruates knows that 12 pads per month are not nearly enough. Most women change their pads every 2 hours, and even experts agree that women should minimally change their pads every 3-4 hours to avoid odor from bacterial growth.
House Bill 2222, introduced by Rep. Athena Salman, aims to provide female inmates with an unlimited supply of feminine hygiene products at no additional cost to the women. The bill would appropriate funds to the Department of Corrections to cover the costs.
"This issue speaks to the basic dignity of being a woman," Salman told CNN. "By denying women additional pads and no free tampons, that is violating a woman's dignity and that's fundamentally wrong."
Female inmates testified to legislators about menstrual flow and female health issues, doing their best to explain the problem in detail to the all-male Military Veterans and Regulatory Affairs Committee.
The bill passed the committee with a 5-4 vote, but is now stalled in the House Rules Committee. In response to the proposed legislation, the Department of Corrections said that it would revise its policy and provide the female inmates the supplies that they need. As a result, Thomas "T.J." Shope, the Republican chairman of the House Rules Committee, said that the bill would be redundant.
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However, the female inmates are not convinced. Regardless, the Department of Correction has shared that they will increase the number of pads given to each female inmate from 12 to 36.
Activists have taken the matter into their own hands by sending pads, tampons, and even cash to Representative Shope. The campaign, which has been termed #LetItFlow, gained momentum in the last week. Female inmates have been forced to deal with their menstrual cycles in cruel and disturbing ways for too long..