COLORADO, USA — A new bill introduced in the Colorado House of Representatives would require local and county jails to provide tampons for free to inmates.
Two years ago, legislators approved funds in the Department of Corrections budget to give women tampons in state prisons, but it took an activist spending time in a county jail to get this new bill on the table.
In February, anti-jail activist Elisabeth Epps spent 16 nights in the Arapahoe County Jail after being convicted of interfering with police. She had her period on the first day.
“It was 10 days before I got a feminine hygiene product," Epps told 9NEWS in February while serving her work-release sentence. "So I feel like even men understand the math. That’s too late.”
When State Rep. Leslie Herod (D-Denver) heard Epps was required to order tampons through commissary, and then wait for the shipment, she introduced a bill to change that.
"Some women are provided some types of sanitary products,"Herod said. "It is inconsistent across counties. That may be a pad. That may be a liner. That may be toilet paper.”
Vince Line, the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Detention Services Bureau Chief, wrote in an email their office "emphatically supports the language" in this bill.
He added the jail "recently approved adding additional menstrual hygiene products to include tampons, free of charge."
When lawmakers approved $40,000 in the DOC budget to go toward tampons in state prisons, Herod said if there were lawmakers against it, they weren't loud.
"There was quiet opposition," she said. "So I think it's hard for people to talk about these issues publicly. I say if you can't say the word tampon, you don't deserve the right to regulate it."
While no lawmakers have come out publicly against the bill, a few people on Facebook voiced concerns.
Ashley Smith wrote if they are provided with pads then "tampons are more of a luxury and should be paid for."
"If I have to pay for them, they should to," added Tracy Lynn Gutierrez.
The first hearing on the bill will be this Thursday afternoon at the Capitol.