Virginia suspends tampon ban for prison visitors

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Virginia is suspending a new policy that would have barred women who visit inmates at state prisons from wearing tampons or a menstrual cup.

Secretary of Public and Homeland Security Safety Brian Moran said he has ordered an ‘immediate suspension until further review.’

State prison officials recently announced they were set to implement the policy next month as a way to prevent contraband from being smuggled into prisons.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Kinney previously said the agency planned to offer pads to women who were wearing tampons or using a cup while visiting a prison.

Inmate advocates sharply criticized the policy, saying it violates the privacy rights of female visitors.

Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union Virginia, Claire Gastanaga, called for the policy to be ‘rescinded permanently’.

‘Helping people who are housed in jail or prison stay connected to friends, families, and communities is critical to rehabilitation and eventual, successful re-entry to society,’ she wrote on Twitter. 

‘Any policy that discourages visitors is, therefore, one that should be subject to the most exacting and careful review.’

Moran says he understands the concerns about contraband but adds a more ‘thorough review’ of the tampon ban is needed.

‘Having been recently informed of a recent Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) visitation policy, I have ordered its immediate suspension until further review,’ he said. 

‘I understand DOC’s precautionary steps to detect the rising threat of contraband, overdoses and even deaths among our offender population. A number of concerns have been raised about the new procedure.

‘Though the policy has not taken effect and is scheduled for October 6, I feel it appropriate to immediately suspend the newly developed policy until a more thorough review of its implementation and potential consequences are considered.’ 

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