U.S. Rep. Grace Meng Pushes DOJ to Provide Free Sanitary Products to Federal Female Inmates

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has directed all prisons to provide female inmates with pads, tampons, and panty liners free of charge. Introduced by United States Representative Grace Meng (D-NY 6th District), this directive was included in a series of bills (Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2017 (H.R. 972) to make feminine hygiene products more safe, accessible, and affordable.

Announced Thursday, Meng stated that the United States Justice Department has agreed to make hygienic items available to federal female inmates for free. Under the new policy, the Federal Bureau of Prisons will be required to provide these essential products to incarcerated women free of charge.  

“[The move] will help restore dignity and proper hygiene practices to the many inmates who found these items out of reach,” stated Meng.

“Though long overdue, I welcome this new policy, and look forward to its implementation.”

The Hill reported that while some facilities already make the products available, Meng stated in a letter to the bureau last year that there is no uniform standard pertaining to the pricing, distribution, or quantity of such products that must be made available.  

The series of bills included a measure to require large employers to provide free feminine hygiene products to their employees and a provision to encourage the U.S. FDA to issue proper guidance on the use of colorants in menstrual hygiene cosmetic products.

Meng was joined last year by New York City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland in sending a letter of support to the Department of Justice requesting that feminine hygiene products be made available to federal inmates and detainees at no-cost. 

Rachel Hampton

Communications and Special Projects Associate

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