Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal Commends New State Rule, Recommits to Passing Legislation to Make Menstrual Hygiene Products Free in Correctional Facilities Statewide

August 9, 2017

New York, NY – Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) commends the State Commission on Correction for publishing a rule today requiring menstrual hygiene products be provided free in local lockups, and looks forward to passing her legislation, A.588-A, next session requiring free menstrual hygiene products of sufficient quality and quantity be provided in all state and local detention facilities.

“Ensuring prisoners’ access to menstrual hygiene products is not only meeting a basic health need, it is ensuring that prisoners are treated with dignity and humanity,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “This is just the kind of change that we should expect to see when women begin talking openly and honestly about their health and menstrual equity.”

The average individual uses 20 tampons a month, with some using more or less. Though commissary prices vary by region, a box of 20 tampons costs an average $2.50. This many not seem like much until you consider that family members are not permitted to send menstrual hygiene products to their incarcerated loved ones, and that inmates, on average, earn just 17 cents per hour. At this rate of pay, the average inmate would have to work for half a month to save enough to purchase a box of 20 tampons. Of course, this doesn’t account of the fact that inmates are also required to purchase other necessities with those earnings, like toothpaste and deodorant.

“Codifying these regulator changes is vital to ensure that their permanence,” continued Assemblymember Rosenthal. “It is also vital that we ensure that prisoners are receiving quality products in quantities sufficient to staunch their flow and enable them to participle in everyday activities of prison life.”

Access to menstrual hygiene products is vital to a menstruating individual's health. Sadly, this this vital access can and has been used as a tool to control and demean inmates. We must not allow this dangerous power dynamic to continue.

Assemblymember Rosenthal passed A.588-A out of the Assembly by 142-1, but the bill was stalled in the State Senate, where it is sponsored by Betty Little.