Maine bill aimed at guaranteeing menstrual products for inmates 'not needed,' GOP lawmaker says

Rep. Richard Pickett argued that a bill to guarantee free tampons, pads and menstrual cups for state prison inmates was unnecessary.
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A Republican lawmaker in Maine on Friday argued that a bill to guarantee free tampons, pads and menstrual cups for state prison inmates was unnecessary — and warned against attempts to "micromanage" the criminal justice system.

Rep. Richard Pickett weighed in on the bill during a hearing last week. In a statement to Fox News on Thursday, Pickett said that “female inmates currently receive an unlimited supply of pads and tampons and are allowed extra showers and clothing in the event of an accident with heavy bleeding,” and that a bill enforcing that is “not needed.”

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The bill states that females in correctional facilities have "a right to comprehensive access to menstrual products, including, but not limited to, sanitary pads, tampons and menstrual cups, provided without charge to the incarcerated person."

The lawmaker told Fox News that he “fully support[s] access to feminine hygiene products for female inmates,” but implied that the bill is part of an effort to “continue to micromanage the jail systems.”

“There’s availability to get what you need, if you want something different, at the commissary,” Pickett said of feminine hygiene products. “And quite frankly, and I don’t mean this in any disrespect, but the jail system, and the correction system, was never meant to be a country club.”

Democratic Rep. Charlotte Warren, who sponsored the bill, responded online to a report from the Maine Beacon, tweeting, "Having access to tampons has never made me feel like I'm hangin' at the Country Club."

Whitney Parrish, of the Maine Women's Lobby, on Friday voiced support for the bill, according to the news outlet. She detailed what happens to inmates who have their period while incarcerated.

“You’re given a limited supply of menstrual products per month, often of low quality due to cost saving, and when you run out, you’re out," Parrish said. "You may have no money to go to commissary, and if you do, you may have to weigh that purchase against other necessities, like making phone calls to your children or attorney. You are forced to make the impossible decision of constructing your own menstrual products, using anything from clothing or notebook paper in place of a tampon.”

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Pickett said that, “all but a couple of county jails” provides sanitary products to inmates.

“That is why I voted against the bill because it was not needed. If these products were not being supplied in an unlimited number I would have been the first one to vote in favor of the bill,” he said.

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