Yes, you read that right.
If you are visiting someone in a Virginia prison starting next month, and you just happen to be menstruating, and you prefer to wear tampons or menstrual cups, you will be in a bit of a bind. The Virginia Department of Corrections announced on Monday that women will be barred from using either sanitary product due to a new policy surrounding concerns about contraband – including drugs – being smuggled into the prisons.
“If someone chooses to visit a Virginia Department of Corrections inmate, he or she cannot have anything hidden inside a body cavity,” spokeswoman Lisa Kinney wrote in an email, according to ABC News.
Apparently, in an attempt to buffer any backlash (which is coming anyway), Kinney noted that the Department of Corrections consulted with the state Attorney General’s Office and it was decided that “facilities would offer pads to women who are wearing tampons while visiting a prison so the tampons don’t appear as possible contraband on a body scan.”
So I guess one of the questions that will be asked to women passing through hoping to visit a loved one will be “are you wearing a tampon or a using a menstrual cup,” which is exactly the type of invasion of privacy any person needs when they are already dealing with enough.
And of course, inmate advocates are criticizing the policy as a violation of privacy.
“That’s such a violation,” said Jana White, a co-founder of the Virginia Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, who regularly visits an inmate at Sussex II State Prison in Waverly, Virginia. “I can’t understand why we, the loved ones, have to go through this.”
But again, Kinney and the Department of Corrections is really trying to push this as a good and convenient thing, noting that when potential contraband is seen on a body scan, visitors are offered whether they would go through a strip search, or leave without visiting the person the came to see. The new policy is apparently “to help visitors avoid that altogether.”
“Offenders in Virginia have died of drug overdoses while inside our prisons. It’s our job to keep the offenders and staff as safe as we can,” she wrote.