8. Withholding Pads And Tampons
Across the United States, dozens of jails and prisons fail to provide female inmates with free pads and tampons. Those that do often have a serious undersupply.
Indigent inmates, who make up the majority of the prison population, are forced to get creative. They fashion sanitary napkins out of toilet paper, socks, prison slippers, and anything else they can get their hands on. Often, these makeshift pads result in illness and infection.
This humiliating practice forces inmates to bleed through their prison scrubs, often while being monitored by male guards. Perhaps that’s why, according to an ACLU lawsuit, some correctional facilities withhold these critical supplies as a way to punish inmates.
This isn’t the only way that female inmates are punished. In my capacity as a public interest attorney, I have witnessed members of this vulnerable population subjected to sexual assault during unsanitary and unsafe gynecological exams.
I have heard stories of inmates shackled while giving birth, too-tight cuffs cutting into their wrists and ankles as intensely painful contractions make them writhe. I have also heard of female inmates being leered at and subjected to racial slurs while being forced to use the toilet in front of male guards.
7. Refusing To Provide Basic Medical Care
It took Tyler Tabor, who was held in the Adams County jail in Pennsylvania in 2015, three full days to die from heroin withdrawal. According to attorney David Lane, who represents Tabor’s family in a civil suit, “[Tabor] told the jail he was suffering from withdrawal, and he begged them for an IV, which would have saved his life.”
Unassisted drug withdrawal can cause grand mal seizures, dehydration, and more. Tabor’s bond was only $300, but his family elected to leave him in jail to detox, which they assumed Tabor could do safely at a government-run facility.
In another Pennsylvania correctional facility, Victoria “Tori” Herr, who had been using approximately 10 bags of heroin a day, was experiencing severe heroin withdrawal. During a jail call three days after her arrest, Herr told her mother, “I’m seeing people die. I’m going to die.”
Despite having informed jail staff members of her habit, Herr did not receive medical intervention until it was too late. She eventually lost consciousness and was transported to a hospital, where she died after being taken off life support.