Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal and Senator Roxanne J. Persaud's Bill to Require Free Menstrual Hygiene Products to Incarcerated Individuals Passes Both Houses

June 12, 2018

Albany, NY – Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) today announced that her bill, A.588-B, to provide menstrual hygiene products free to individuals incarcerated in the State’s correctional facilities has passed both houses of the Legislature and now heads to the Governor’s desk.

“Once this bill becomes law, access to menstrual hygiene products will no longer be used as a means to degrade, coerce or intimidate incarcerated individuals,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “Menstruation is a basic part of a woman’s biology, and access to menstrual hygiene products is a fundamental health necessity. This legislation is about ensuring incarcerated individuals have access to an adequate number of menstrual hygiene products, but also to ensure that they are not deprived of their dignity because of their period.”

"Everyone should be treated with dignity. Individuals in incarceration are human beings. Providing that with their basic needs is not only the right thing to do, it is the responsibility of correctional facilities," said Senator Roxanne J. Persaud.

The bill amends New York State Corrections Law to require menstrual hygiene products is provided at no cost to individuals housed in state and local correctional facilities. Although state correctional facilities implemented a voluntary program after Assemblymember Rosenthal’s bill first passed the Assembly in 2017, access to menstrual hygiene products remains inadequate in correctional facilities in parts of the state.

The bill, which was sponsored by Roxanne Persaud in the State Senate, passed that house earlier today by a vote of 59-2.

“This law is about so much more than women’s hygiene products. It is recognition of incarcerated women’s right to fundamental dignity and respect. We thank the NYS legislature for recognizing this fact,” said Annette Warren-Dickerson, Correctional Association of New York.

“New Yorkers have a fundamental need for menstrual hygiene products and our prison system cannot ignore this essential requirement. Thank you to Assemblymember Rosenthal and Senator Persaud for taking this sensible and overdue step to ensure the health and welfare of incarcerated New Yorkers," Robin Chappelle Gholston, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts.

"The call to action to expand access to menstrual health management products is a global movement, one that requires the support of governments and policy makers to ensure that the basic human rights and dignity of all individuals who menstruate are upheld. While our work is largely focused in Kenya, we are thrilled to hear that the bill to provide free menstrual health products to individuals in correctional facilities in New York has passed and commend the Assembly member and all who supported this bill for their tireless efforts. It is a basic human right to manage your body with dignity and no one should be forced to go without the supplies needed to manage a natural and life-giving bodily function," Alison Nakamura Netter, Chief Communications & Development Officer, ZanaAfrica Foundation.

“Thank you Am. Rosenthal for sponsoring A.588B and protecting women in prisons and jails from having to beg for intimate feminine hygiene items from staff. Enacting this bill will be a long overdue win for women’s health and fundamental dignity,” Caroline Hsu, Staff Attorney, Prisoners’ Rights Project, The Legal Aid Society.

“Brooklyn Defender Services applauds the New York State Assembly’s passage of A.588A, which guarantees access to feminine hygiene products in correctional facilities. No woman should be denied her dignity or humanity because of her menstrual cycle, including while she is incarcerated,” said Lisa Schreibersdorf, Executive Director of Brooklyn Defender Services.

Georgia Lerner, Executive Director of the Women's Prison Association, “Assembly Bill A588A is a worthy effort to ensure that women don’t pay simply to be women, that women’s health is a priority, and that the dignity of all women is valued whether they are incarcerated or not. The Women’s Prison Association hopes this bill sets us toward more legislation aimed to address the unique needs of women and greater efforts to address those needs in the community, without the use of jail or prison.”

"The Kota Alliance is pleased to hear that both the Assembly and Senate have passed this bill, which restores gender equality and dignity to women incarcerated in NYS by making sure they have free access to all the menstrual hygiene supplies they need," said Jaana Rehnstrom MD MPH, Founder and President, The Kota Alliance. "Congratulations to Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal and Senator Roxanne Persaud for working on this legislation. It came as a shock to us to learn that access to menstrual hygiene products was restricted in many ways and even sometimes withheld as punishment. What seems such an obvious right to every woman, was not that for these incarcerated women. Thankfully the Legislature saw this inequality too and corrected it."