PHOENIX — Women called out a Pinal County lawmaker over the weekend, demanding he advance legislation that provides more hygiene products to female prisoners.
Posting pictures of tampons and pads, many Twitter users asked for Rep. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, to give a hearing for a bill that expands the amount of hygiene products available to female inmates at the state’s prisons.
House Bill 2222 would appropriate $80,000 for an unlimited supply of products to inmates, without allowing the Arizona Department of Corrections to charge them. The state’s current policy automatically provides 12 pads per month for an inmate’s menstrual cycle.
The bill narrowly passed the House Military, Veterans and Regulatory Affairs Committee last week and was sent to the Rules Committee for review. Shope, the chairman of that committee, chose not to place HB 2222 on the committee’s agenda this week.
Shope said he consulted with DOC last week on the bill and he has 100 percent confidence the agency will revise its policies to be more accommodating to women.
This seems like more of an internal issue, he added, that can be resolved without having it set in statute.
But some women on social media don’t seem convinced. One woman posted a picture of a menstrual pad with “#LetItFlow” written on it and a $20 bill she was sending to DOC.
Another called for her Twitter followers to send tampons and pads to Shope’s office in an effort to encourage him to hold a hearing for the bill.
Shope said he was shocked to see so many postings on Twitter about him and found it “ludicrous” that some accused him of having anti-woman beliefs. He doesn’t disagree with issues raised in HB2222 and wasn’t aware of a lack of hygiene products before the bill was introduced.
State Rep. Athena Salman, D-Tempe, who introduced the bill, posted a video Monday morning calling for constituents to call Shope’s office and ask for a hearing.
Salman told PinalCentral she thinks passing a statute is the “most adequate” way to ensure female inmates will have all the products they need. Policies and rules can change under new leadership at DOC, she argued, so a new law would more thoroughly resolve the issue.
Shope pointed out this matter could be resolved sooner by allowing DOC to change its policies rather than going through the channels of passing a new law.
Some former inmates spoke before a legislative committee last week, testifying to the humiliation of bleeding through prison uniforms and having to barter or beg for hygiene products.
A DOC spokesman told PinalCentral in a statement the agency is currently evaluating its policies on how it provides hygiene products to inmates.
“We are confident that concerns can be appropriately addressed administratively rather than through statute,” the statement read.