Virginia panel wants prisons to modify tampon ban

The Virginia Department of Corrections would have to modify its official — but unenforced — policy of barring women from wearing feminine hygiene products when they visit a state prison, under a bill approved Friday by a House committee.

The House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee voted 19-1 in favor of House Bill 1884 and sent the legislation to the full House of Delegates for approval next week.

HB 1884 would require the DOC to modify the policy it announced in September for visitors wearing menstrual cups and tampons.

The rule banned the feminine products in an attempt to prevent people from smuggling contraband into facilities.

“If someone chooses to visit a Virginia Department of Corrections inmate, he or she cannot have anything hidden inside a body cavity,” a DOC spokeswoman told the Richmond Times-Dispatch at the time. “There have been many instances in which visitors have attempted to smuggle drugs into our prisons by concealing those drugs in a body cavity, including the vagina.”

Soon after the announcement, Brian Moran, Virginia’s secretary of public safety and homeland security, suspended the policy until further review.

The bill, sponsored by Del. Mark Keam, D-Fairfax, would require the DOC to rewrite the restrictions. As amended by the committee, the measure would require the DOC to:

  • Notify visitors about the policy prohibiting menstrual cups and tampons ahead of their visit.
  • Provide visitors the option of removing any prohibited menstrual product and replacing it with a state-issued one in order to have a contact visit with an inmate.
  • Allow visitors who do not want to remove prohibited menstrual products the option of a no-contact visit with an inmate.

By Saffeya Ahmed

Capital News Service

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