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State Board of Corrections to provide Va. inmates free menstrual supplies

RICHMOND, Va. — A bill that requires Virginia jails and prisons to provide inmates with free feminine hygiene products such as pads and tampons will take effect on July 1.

Gov. Ralph Northam signed House Bill 83, after first making a recommendation regarding language of the bill. It was reenrolled last week and then enacted.

The bill, introduced by Del. Kaye Kory, D-Fairfax, received unanimous approval in the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee.

According to the Capital News Service, other legislation this session to remove the sales tax on feminine hygiene products, along with bills for exemptions during the state’s three-day tax-free period in August and year-round failed to advance past House committees.

“It’s appalling that this was ever even an issue,” said Katrina Reid, a supporter of HB 83, in a CNS report.

Currently, the Virginia Department of Corrections and some local and regional jails offer pads to inmates for free; however, tampons must be purchased. The cost to prisons will be included in the department’s budget and was estimated at $33,769. The cost has yet to be determined for jails.

The State Board of Corrections will be responsible for creating the feminine hygiene policy in the correctional facilities, CNS reported. Some states such as Arizona and Colorado offer inmates menstrual supplies but limit the number of pads and tampons allowed per month. The board has not yet decided whether it will set such a limit, according to CNS.

Last year, Senators Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts, Kamala Harris (D-California) and Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) partnered to introduce the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act, a bill that would help address the inhumane and unjust conditions that incarcerated women face. That bill, which was drafted with the help of women who had spent time in prison themselves, spurred intense dialogue among federal lawmakers and advocates on and all across the country.

Shortly after the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act was introduced, the Federal Bureau of Prisons issued a memo making tampons and pads available free of charge to all incarcerated women in federal prison.

**CNN Wire contributed to this report***

** Tianna Mosby/Capital News Service contributed to this report**
Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students participating in the program provide state government coverage for Virginia’s community newspapers and other media outlets, under the supervision of Associate Professor Jeff South.