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Supes Say No More Dehumanizing Rationing of Menstrual Products in LA Jails and Youth Facilities

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a motion to ensure that the county’s youth and adult carceral facilities comply with a law requiring incarcerated people have access to free tampons and pads.

In 2020, California legislators passed AB 732, the “Reproductive Dignity for Incarcerated People Act,” which mandated access to free menstrual products in jails, prisons, and juvenile facilities. The bill, by then-Assemblymember Rob Bonta, also required access to perinatal medical care and banned correctional staff from using Tasers and chemical weapons on incarcerated pregnant people.

Three years later, in August 2023, the CA Department of Justice issued orders to 53 of the state’s 58 counties to come into compliance with AB 732, after finding that the counties’ jail policies did not reflect the updated reproductive health requirements. 

Compliance chart from the California Department of Justice’s 2023 “Report on Reproductive Healthcare Access in California County Jails”Say

“Counties’ menstrual products policies were generally the least compliant of the seven policy areas, as the policies frequently contained ambiguities about whether inmates were required to pay for menstrual products,” according to the state DOJ report.

Since then, nearly all of the non-compliant (and semi-compliant) counties have updated their policies.

Los Angeles and Santa Clara Counties, however, were not part of the review, according to the DOJ, because there are other “open, ongoing investigations into broader jail practices.” 

Evidence suggests people in LA’s youth and adult jails have not had easy access to menstrual products. 

LA County’s Sybil Brand Commission, whose job it is to inspect the county jails, have heard from women incarcerated in Century Regional Detention Facility (CRDF) that they must ask deputies for period supplies, and that those deputies “ration” tampons and pads.

“Across more than one inspection this year, people in CRDF have complained of not being given enough tampons or sanitary napkins,” the commission wrote in a July 2023 report. “People held in CRDF have shared that deputies ration these items and make an arbitrary determination as to whether a request reflects an actual need.”

In January of this year, Assemblymember Isaac Bryan (D-Los Angeles) introduced AB 1810, a bill to require custody facilities to ensure incarcerated people have open access to menstrual products without having to request them. 

In California, correctional facilities “limit access to these basic needs by requiring incarcerated people to request — in many cases, beg — their correctional officers for a pad or tampon,” according to the bill’s author. “This has led to dehumanizing and unsafe conditions where incarcerated people have been forced to fashion period products out of toilet paper or bed sheets and wear bloodstained clothes between laundry days.” Incarcerated people have also reported that officers witholding access to tampons and pads as punishment. “There have been numerous reports of correctional officers leveraging access to menstrual products to sexually assault, mistreat, harass, or humiliate incarcerated people,” Bryan wrote.

Tuesday’s motion to address the issue in LA County, authored by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn, directs the LA County Sheriff’s Department and Probation Department, along with the county’s oversight bodies, to ensure the jails and youth camps and halls policies align with AB 732, that staff are following the rules, and that all barriers to access to menstrual products — including having to request products from staff — are eliminated. 

The supervisors requested a report back with a list of areas for improvement, and that the Office of Inspector General include updates on the issue in its quarterly reports on conditions in the jails. The motion also directs the CEO to come up with a plan for funding free access to tampons and pads in the carceral facilities. 

“We should not be forcing adult women and teen girls to beg, request, or jump through hoops to get access to menstrual products,” said Supervisor Solis. “It’s dehumanizing, endangers women’s health, and it violates Assembly bill (AB) 732.” 

1 Comment

  • And what of the County’s dehumanizing deletion of its entire executive team of deputy directors and bureau chiefs? Just demoted and farmed ‘’em and their expensive fancy salaries to a slew of other county departments to jobs they are probably not qualified for. Huge leadership vacuum created despite the bias of some Only three (the intellectually challenged sociopath Chief, Epps, and. Sheila ‘juice jug) Williams execs (remain. God help them. Did y’y’all at the award-winning WLA even know this or are you suppressing this news.

    If you thought it was bad before, God help them now.

    This is my real address.

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