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Congresswoman Grace Meng

Representing the 6th District of New York

Meng Calls on All U.S. Governors to Provide Feminine Hygiene Products at No Cost to Female Inmates in Police Lockups

Oct 10, 2017
Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) sent a letter to every United States governor requesting that each state require local police lockups to have feminine-hygiene products on hand for female detainees if such a policy is not already in place. This request is similar to the letter she sent former Attorney General Loretta Lynch in July 2016 requesting that federal prisons provide these products to female inmates, a policy that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it was implementing this past August.
 
“I am thrilled that the Federal Bureau of Prisons must now provide female inmates in federal prisons with feminine hygiene products as needed and free of charge, but the vast majority of female inmates are housed in state and local facilities, many of which have not adopted this humane policy,” said Meng. “It is time for state governments to act, and some, such as my home state of New York, already have. Access to feminine hygiene products is a critical aspect to maintaining women’s health, and there is absolutely no excuse for women having to ration, barter, or humiliate themselves in order to receive or use these products. I urge all state governors to implement a policy providing female inmates with feminine hygiene products on demand and free of charge.”
 
Last year, Meng, joined by New York City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, sent a letter to the DOJ calling for feminine hygiene items to be made available to all female inmates. Under the new DOJ policy announced in August, the Federal Bureau of Prisons is required to provide these essential products to incarcerated women free of charge. Also in August, New York State announced a rule that police lockups are required to have feminine hygiene products available for female detainees at no cost.
 
Earlier this year, Meng introduced the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2017 (H.R. 972) which contains five provisions to help different populations of women and girls better access feminine hygiene products.
 
The text of the letter to U.S. governors is below.
 
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Dear Governor [Name],
 
I write to share with you the attached news story "State Requires Feminine Hygiene Products for Female Detainees" published by the Times Union in Albany, New York two months ago. As you will see, the New York State Commission of Correction recently adopted a rule requiring police lockups to have feminine-hygiene products on hand for female detainees. I am unsure if your state currently requires similar preparedness for each of its lockups, but I respectfully encourage you to adopt such a policy if one is not already in place.
 
This request is consistent with the new policy implemented by the Federal Bureau of Prisons on August 9, 2017. Operations Memorandum 001-2017 now requires that all federal "inmates [be] provided the following products (at no cost to the inmates): Tampons, regular and super-size; Maxi Pads with wings, regular and super-size; and Panty liners, regular." It is my hope that every state will follow this common-sense and compassionate example, and, at the very least, simply ensure that feminine hygiene products are available to those who may need them.
 
If your state already has a relevant policy in place, sincerely, thank you. If it does not, I would like you to know that the New York State Commission of Correction, when considering this matter, estimated that the annual cost per lockup in New York would only be $5.71. I imagine the cost in your state would be comparable. Personally, I feel that this is a small price to pay for the health and well-being of female inmates and detainees in your care.
 
Again, thank you for your consideration of this matter and this letter.  If I may ever be of help to you or the citizens of your great state, please do not hesitate to contact me anytime.
 
Sincerely,
 
Grace Meng
Member of Congress