What extent is the United States willing to go to punish an individual who has previously committed a crime?
While having a punishment that fits the crime is an easy concept to understand, in many situations individuals are being pushed far beyond appropriate punishments.
Individuals who are currently residing in prisons have become used to dealing with forced labor and constant submission to the guards. It is clear that prison would be hard for anyone who has to experience it. While it is believed that a certain level of difficulty is definitely understood and even expected, there are challenges that have begun crossing the line of being ethical.
A recent issue that has started to gain attention is the conversation around sanitary items for women. Many women are only being rationed a certain number of sanitary products.
For example, the Arizona prison system, up until a recently, only provided a maximum amount of 12 pads per month to all women inmates as a baseline quantity, according to the Arizona Department of Corrections website. Not only was this unhealthy, but it forced these women to adjust the ways they manage their menstrual cycle. These women were forced to face free bleeding or rely on unsanitary solutions, a Huffington post article stated.
Do these women deserve to have their basic human rights taken away because they have committed crimes? Does this seem like a fair punishment? The answer is no; yet these problems have been repeated. Women are being pushed into begging and pleading for necessary products. One former prisoner shared how bloodstained pants, bartering and begging for pads was a regular occurrence, according to a Metro article.
With the many complaints that were being tossed around, it did not take that long for someone to propose a change. It started with Arizona politician Athena Salman introducing a bill that had potential to bring about change.
From there, the bill made its way through powerful leaders until the Federal Bureau of Prisons established that something had to change.
Last summer, the Federal Bureau of Prisons announced women in its facilities would be given free menstrual pads and tampons, according to a Huff Post article.
“I can’t imagine something more uncomfortable than not having the menstrual products you need for your period,” Salman said. “So my heart goes out to these women.”
On Feb. 13, the Arizona Department of Corrections announced that the minimum number of sanitary items inmates receive per month will increase from 12 to 36, according to the AZCentral article. Women now have the option of receiving pads or tampons. Before, tampons were not free.
While this seemed promising, the announcement from the Federal Bureau of Prisons actually wasn’t guaranteed for all. Due to the majority of incarcerated women being housed in state prisons, they are being left unaffected by the policy change.
This has the opportunity to be a huge step for a women, and a even bigger step into incorporating safe practices into our prison systems as long as we see it through. Instead of letting this fade in conversation, we need to continue to speak on it and demand equal rights.