Maine Republican says providing free tampons and pads would turn jails into 'country clubs'

How much do Republicans hate women and people who menstruate? A lot. The latest example: One member of the GOP in Maine has asserted his (of course it’s a man) belief that if state jails provided free tampons and sanitary pads to incarcerated people, it would make jails too similar to a “country club.”

Ah, yes. The old is-this-jail-too-similar-to-a-country-club concern.

How did this conversation come up? The quick version is that in early March, Maine legislators voted on a bill amendment to guarantee incarcerated people access to tampons and sanitary pads. Basically, the necessary menstrual products.

On the federal level, this is already a guarantee. So if you’re incarcerated in a federal prison, you are guaranteed access to free tampons and pads. If you’re in a local or state facility, however, you have to pay for them.

And for people who can’t pay? Makeshift solutions made from supplies like toilet paper or cloth. Which is not only a possible health or sanitation concern, but incredibly demeaning and stressful. 

In this case, GOP Rep. Richard Pickett explicitly said that incarcerated people shouldn’t get additional access to menstrual products because “the jail system and the correctional system was never meant to be a country club,” as reported by Alex Acquisto, a reporter for the Bangor Daily News.

As quoted by Acquisto, the full quote reads as follows, in case you wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt:

“Quite frankly, and I don’t mean this in any disrespect, the jail system and the correctional system was never meant to be a country club. … [T]hey have a right to have these and they have them. If that wasn’t the case, then I would be supporting the motion, but they do.”

He also accused Democrats of trying to “micromanage” the system. 

Luckily, the bill passed committee with a 6-4 vote. The four “no” votes were all Republicans. However, it is not yet a law.

As reported by Teen Vogue, Meagan Sway of the ACLU of Maine policy counsel, feels that the bill is crucial. Why? “So that future commissioners are not tempted to save money in their budgets or use menstrual products as tools of control by denying women access to basic necessities.”

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