COLUMBUS – Today, State Reps. Latyna Humphrey (D-Columbus) and Shayla L. Davis (I-Garfield Heights) are pleased to share their support of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s (ODRC) latest policy change that ensures that the women living in correctional facilities have adequate access to safe and sanitary menstrual products.
Earlier this month, the two legislators felt compelled to introduce House Bill (HB) 743, the Menstrual Equity Act, which calls for access to proper healthcare and hygiene in Ohio prisons, specifically for women inmates experiencing their menstrual cycle. The proposal was necessary to ensure that Ohio provides adequate and proper access to feminine hygiene products to female inmates.
“Ohio’s regulatory codes governing administration of sanitary items for a woman’s cycle are open to interpretation, which can sometimes lead to problems. I believe our role in trying to advance the Menstrual Equity Act, HB 743, helped further advance the conversation that led to this necessary policy change,” said Rep. Humphrey.
The Menstrual Equity Act was introduced after Reps. Humphrey and Davis heard stories from incarcerated women about the experiences they had when managing their menstrual cycles in prison.
“I am grateful that Ohio’s prison system took the initiative to make this an in-house policy change. This adoption of this variance helps protect the civil and basic human rights of women in the system who are too often already traumatized,” said Rep. Davis.
ODRC Variance 61-PRP-02 is active immediately and will ensure the following:
· All female incarcerated persons in reception shall be provided, at no charge, as many sanitary napkins or tampons as they require.
· These items shall be readily available to women 24/7 and be kept in an area that is accessible without having to ask staff for access.
· Incarcerated persons in a celled environment who may be secured in their cells for more extended periods shall have access to a supply of sanitary napkins and tampons during out-of-cell time without having to ask staff for access. They shall be allowed to take as many items as they require back to their cell. If the person does not wish to leave their cell or runs out of supplies, additional supplies shall be provided whenever a person requests.
· Each female facility will also include information on their specific procedures for feminine hygiene products in their handbook and orientation materials.
"Much like Representative Humphrey, I felt it was important for ODRC to formally document our long-standing practice of providing women discrete access to feminine hygiene products while they are with us. Putting this practice into policy ensures that we will not lose ground on this fundamental female need," said ODRC Director Annette Chambers-Smith.