Female inmates claim Arizona prison withholding basic hygienic products

Female inmates claim Arizona prison withholding basic hygienic products
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Female inmates at an Arizona prison say that the state's Department of Corrections is withholding sufficient basic hygienic supplies, including toilet paper.

Local news radio station KJZZ reported this week that two inmates at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Perryville wrote to the religious group, American Friends Service Committee, alleging that they were forced to find substitutes for toilet paper for days after prison officials said the facility  ran out.

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The prison later ran out of feminine pads, according to the prisoners' letters.

“I ran out on Saturday 9/30, and although I continually asked for [toilet paper] was told they were out,” one woman wrote, according to KJZZ. “They did have pads that I used as [toilet paper] until Monday 10/1 when they ran out. I then had to use a wash rag until Wed morn.”

“[M]any of the officers are indifferent to the fact that we don’t have any," wrote another woman.

The station wrote that it had confirmed the identities of the prisoners who wrote the letters, but was not naming the women who said they feared retribution.

A spokesman for the group, which advocates on behalf of prisoners and prison reform, attacked the Arizona Department of Corrections for treating inmates "like animals."

"How do we expect folks to rehabilitate themselves, if we can't even treat them like human beings?" Joe Watson, the group's spokesman, told WJZZ. "If you treat folks like animals, withholding their basic necessities how do we expect them to come out of prison and feel like they are a part of their community?" he continued.

A spokesman for the Arizona Department of Corrections called the inmates' accusations "patently untrue," while admitting that a shortage of toilet paper existed at the Perryville location.

“All inmates … have continuous access to toilet paper, at no cost to them,” Andrew Wilder told WJZZ.

“The unfortunate reality is that some inmates misuse the toilet paper or misrepresent themselves when asking for more,” he added. “And that can disrupt a unit’s ability to maintain a reasonable and reliable supply for all of the inmates.”

Elizabeth Berry, a spokesperson for Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey told the station that the state's Department of Corrections "is continuously working to improve their operational protocols to align with a recently revised policy improving access to hygiene products. We will continue to monitor this issue."