GOP Maine lawmaker says offering free pads and tampons would make jails like 'country clubs'

GOP Maine lawmaker says offering free pads and tampons would make jails like 'country clubs'
© Getty Images

A Republican state lawmaker in Maine recently opposed a measure offering free menstrual hygiene products in the state’s correctional system, saying it would make jails like “country clubs.”

Rep. Richard Pickett of Dixfield spoke out against the plan to offer comprehensive access to tampons and pads during a hearing held by the legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, The Maine Beacon reported this week.

ADVERTISEMENT

Pickett, who is a current police chief, voted against the bill.

“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,” he said Friday, as reported by Bangor Daily News reporter Alex Acquisto, who attended the meeting. “They 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.”

Pickett said there was adequate access to these products in Maine jails and accused Democrats of trying to "micromanage" the system, according to reports. 

The measure ultimately advanced the committee on a 6-4 vote, with Republicans offering all of the "no" votes. 

The Federal Bureau of Prisons in 2017 guaranteed that all women, transgender people and nonbinary individuals will have access to free menstrual products.

There is no policy for state and county prison systems, The Maine Beacon noted.

Whitney Parrish, director of policy and program for the Maine Women’s Lobby, spoke in support of the measure at the committee hearing.

Incarcerated people are often given only a limited amount of menstrual hygiene products inside a correctional facility.

“You’re given a limited supply of menstrual products per month, often of low quality due to cost saving, and when you run out, you’re out,” Parrish said. “You may have no money to go to commissary, and if you do, you may have to weigh that purchase against other necessities, like making phone calls to your children or attorney. You are forced to make the impossible decision of constructing your own menstrual products, using anything from clothing or notebook paper in place of a tampon.”