Menstrual Product Access in Missouri Prisons and Jails

BACKGROUND

The Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) provided incarcerated women with free pads produced by a correctional supplies company, but not with free tampons or panty liners. Brand-name sanitary pads, tampons, and panty liners were available for sale in the prison canteens, but many incarcerated women lack money to purchase them on a monthly basis. Inadequate access to effective products correlates with infections and poor mental health outcomes for women.

With funding from the Missouri Foundation for Health, in 2017 Missouri Appleseed researched access to menstrual products in Missouri’s two women’s prisons.

Missouri Appleseed Menstrual Product Access in Missouri Prisons and Jails project

“This is something that should be given to every woman and girl throughout the country. Unfortunately, when women are in prison, pads and tampons are actually used to encourage good behavior. And that’s a human rights issue.”

— Topeka K. Sam

HIGHLIGHTS
  • In September 2018, in cooperation with MDOC, Missouri Appleseed developed and distributed surveys on feminine hygiene to 90 incarcerated women, 20 prison nurses, and 20 correctional case managers. The surveys asked about the state of feminine hygiene in the prisons and about unmet hygiene needs. Missouri Appleseed also interviewed two wardens and MDOC’s Director of Adult Institutions. The report found that the pads provided in Missouri’s prisons were not absorbent enough to meet women’s needs.
  • Missouri prisons distribute bare-bones, nonabsorbent sanitary pads to inmates while selling name-brand tampons and maxi pads for almost $6 per box. Incarcerated Missourians earn barely $8 per month. That means one box of tampons costs almost as much as a full month’s salary.
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Half of menstruating inmates said they had to change the free pads they were given at least every half hour on heavy flow days because the pads were so low quality.

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of menstruating inmates believed that receiving free tampons from MDOC would reduce their risk of vaginal infections, which suggests that the women have identified homemade tampons as a possible contributor to infections but continued using them anyway, due to a lack of adequate alternatives.

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of respondents who used homemade tampons said they’d had a vaginal infection over the past six months. Of those who have not used homemade tampons, the self-reported incidence of infection was 0.0%.

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of menstruating respondents used homemade tampons to manage their menstruation, whether made from clothing or the free pads.

IMPACT

In response to Missouri Appleseed’s research, lawmakers filed bills to improve access to products in both Missouri’s prisons and its county jails. MDOC also requested funds from the state to purchase adequate-quality pads and tampons. In 2019 the Missouri house and senate approved funds for better products for Missouri’s two women’s prisons. Then, on May 13, 2021, Missouri Senate Bill 53 was truly agreed to and finally passed with language requiring that feminine hygiene products be provided free of cost not only in prisons, but also in jails. Senate Bill 53 was signed into law by Governor Parson on July 14, 2021.

By planting the seed for policy reform, we advocate for systemic and sustainable change that builds stronger families, reduces recidivism, and creates safer communities. To support our work, please consider giving a donation today.

Missouri Appleseed - Finola Prendergastt

Finola Prendergast

Director of Research

Dr. Prendergast received a B.A. from Yale University and a Ph.D. in English from Notre Dame.

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Todd Kaye

Board President

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP

A partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, where he focuses on mergers and acquisitions, securities law, and general corporate matters, Mr. Kaye holds a J.D. and an M.B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis. He also serves on the Board of Directors of College Bound. Mr. Kaye has been a member of Missouri Appleseed’s Board of Directors since November 2017.

Anisha Moorhead

Board Vice President

Lindenwood University

Ms. Moorhead received her B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Missouri – Columbia. She holds an M.B.A. in Marketing and an M.A. in Corporate Communication in Promotions from Lindenwood University. She is the former Director of Communications and Annual Programs for SSM Health Care – St. Louis, a former Lambert St. Louis Airport Commissioner and Forest Park Advisory Board Member, and a member of the 2011-2012 class of Leadership St. Louis. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis with an emphasis in Critical Race Theory at University of Missouri – St. Louis and an Adjunct Professor of Communications at Lindenwood University. Ms. Moorhead has been a member of Missouri Appleseed’s Board of Directors since November 2017.

Hugh A. Eastwood

Board Secretary

Attorney at Law

Mr. Eastwood is a litigator, mostly in civil rights, who has won significant verdicts and settlements for victims of government misconduct, for whistleblowers, and for those harmed by breach of trust and contract. He received his B.A. and J.D. from Yale, where he has also taught. Before law school, he managed the site design competition for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center at Ground Zero. Mr. Eastwood serves on the boards of several St. Louis nonprofits and has been a director of Missouri Appleseed since November 2017.

Molly Carney

Board Treasurer

Staff Attorney, ACLU of Missouri

Ms. Carney is a staff attorney at ACLU of Missouri. Before that, she served as in-house counsel at Wells Fargo Advisors, where she supported the brokerage business with a variety of legal matters. Previously, Ms. Carney clerked for Chief Judge Rodney Sippel of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and spent several years practicing trusts and estates law. She is a graduate of Northwestern University and Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. She has been a member of Missouri Appleseed’s Board of Directors since April 2019.

Andrew Schlichter

Board Nominations and Governance

Schlichter Bogard & Denton

Mr. Schlichter is a trial attorney at Schlichter Bogard & Denton, where he focuses on class actions and complex civil litigation. He received his B.A. from Georgetown University and J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and has been a member of Missouri Appleseed’s Board of Directors since November 2017.

Brandon Hall

Armstrong Teasdale, LLP

Mr. Hall is an associate attorney at Armstrong Teasdale, LLP, where he practices corporate and health care law. He obtained his B.A. in Political Science and Public Policy from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy at SUNY Albany and his J.D. with concentrations in both health and employment law from St. Louis University School of Law. Prior to and during law school, Mr. Hall worked extensively in government relations, including on state and federal health policy issues.

Cindy Finney Henry

Attorney at Law

Ms. Henry earned her B.A. in Justice Systems from Truman State University and her J.D. from St. Louis University. She spent nearly two years as an Assistant Circuit Attorney in St. Louis City, where she prosecuted cases ranging from misdemeanors to sex crimes and child abuse. Ms. Henry then spent several years representing juveniles in delinquency and criminal proceedings as part of the Missouri Public Defender’s Juvenile Defense Unit. Most recently Ms. Henry taught several courses as an adjunct professor in the Criminal Justice Program at St. Louis Community College. Ms. Henry has been a member of Missouri Appleseed’s Board of Directors since November 2017.

Tali Katz

Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C.

Mrs. Katz is an attorney at Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C. She practices litigation with a focus on corporate defense work. She previously worked for the Office of the District Attorney General in Nashville, Tennessee, where she led the domestic violence prosecution team. In 2014, Mrs. Katz received the Outstanding State Government Official award for her work as a prosecutor. Mrs. Katz served as a director of The Mary Parrish Center for victims of domestic and sexual violence in Nashville and has been a director of Missouri Appleseed since January 2018.

Ray Lin

Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment

Mr. Lin received his B.A. from Harvard University and his J.D. from Columbia University. He is Chief Legal Officer for Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment. He is a retired partner at Latham & Watkins LLP, where his practice focused on the representation of private equity firms in mergers and acquisitions and capital market transactions. He serves on the Board of Visitors of Columbia Law School. Mr. Lin is Chairman of National Appleseed’s Board of Directors and has been a member of Missouri Appleseed’s Board of Directors since November 2017.

Jessica Moore

Head of Enterprise Strategy

Arianna Muckerman

The Centene Corporation

Arianna Muckerman is the for the Centene Corporation. She received her B.A. from Boston College and her M.P.H. from Washington University in St. Louis. She has been a member of Missouri Appleseed’s Board of Directors since July 2021.

Wilford Pinkney Jr.

St. Louis Mayor’s Office

City of St. Louis, Office of Violence Prevention

Wilford Pinkney Jr. currently serves as the Director of the Office of Violence Prevention for the City of St. Louis. The Office of Violence Prevention provides strategic direction and oversight for the City of St. Louis’ efforts to create safe and healthy neighborhoods free of violence.

Mr. Pinkney previously served as the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Children, Youth, and Families for the City of St. Louis. He has overseen the development of a Crisis Management System focused on building healthy and vibrant communities by addressing trauma and increasing access to care. Prior to joining the administration, Pinkney was a FUSE Executive Fellow leading a cross-sector group of stakeholders in the development of a comprehensive pretrial reform plan in the City of St. Louis.

Wilford holds a B.S. in Organizational Management from Mercy College, a Masters in Public Administration from New York University, and a Master of Arts in Political Science from the CUNY Graduate Center. He is currently a doctoral candidate in Political Science at the CUNY Graduate Center, where he specializes in public policy and American politics.

Alexandra Rankin

Upstream USA

Alex Rankin is the Associate Director of State Policy with Upstream USA and has worked to advance access to health care throughout her career. Prior to joining Upstream, Alex worked as the Director of Government Affairs for a large health foundation where she was responsible for engaging and educating policymakers on various health policy topics, including Medicaid and maternal and reproductive health. Alex graduated from Saint Louis University School of Law in 2015 with a concentration in health law and is a licensed attorney through the Missouri Bar. Alex lives in St. Louis with her husband, daughter, and dog and enjoys exploring new parks and the vibrant St. Louis foodie scene.

Missouri Appleseed green

Annie Beattie

St. Louis County Justice Services

Ms. Beattie is a staff attorney for the St. Louis County Justice Services Pre-Trial Release Program. She received her B.A. from the University of Virginia and her J.D. from Georgia State University College of Law. Ms. Beattie, who also serves on the founding Board of Directors of Gateway Children’s Charity, has been a member of Missouri Appleseed’s Board of Directors since November 2017.

Michelle Clardy Dobbs

Caleres, Inc.

Associate General Counsel

Missouri Appleseed - Liza Weiss

Liza Weiss

Founding Director

Liza Weiss is the Executive Director of Missouri Appleseed. Liza is a St. Louis native and former public interest attorney. She holds a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from George Washington University Law School. Liza’s professional background includes work with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, the Committee for Public Counsel Services, and the Children’s Law Center (DC).

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