In 2017, The Reproductive Justice Inside coalition heard from many incarcerated individuals across the state about receiving inadequate menstrual hygiene supplies to meet their needs, sometimes receiving as few as three thin 3 x 5 inch pads a month. This news led to a statewide maxi pad drive that resulted in 1,500 to 3,000 pads donated to the women’s state prison each month for over a year. In 2018, RJI led the effort to a pass state law mandating free and ample access to menstrual hygiene products in all state and local correctional and detention facilities. Prior to the law’s enactment, it was known that some inmates took the flimsy pads and turned them into tampons to reduce bleeding through their uniforms. Unfortunately, unsafe materials (such as the inners of maxi pads, pillows, mattresses) inserted vaginally to absorb menstrual flow often led to poor health outcomes that were not medically addressed until after release.
In 2020, the coalition is still working on implementation efforts of the law by establishing written policies and practice in adult and juvenile facilities.