AURORA, Ill. – Continuing her efforts to guarantee medical parity, state Rep. Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, advanced a measure to ensure menstrual hygiene product access for all incarcerated Illinoisans and employees of the Department of Corrections.
“Menstrual hygiene products are not optional, they’re not secondary, people who menstruate can’t just ‘go without them,’” Hernandez said. “These are medical products as vital as prescription drugs or a sling for a broken arm, and it’s a denial of basic human rights to expect incarcerated Illinoisans to manage on a limited supply. I appreciate the many committed stakeholders I worked with to make this measure happen.”
Hernandez’s measure, House Bill 4218, provides that menstrual hygiene products be made available as needed, free of charge, at all institutions and facilities of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) for all committed persons and ‘employees’ who menstruate. This requirement is just one of many guaranteed inmate rights already on the books, including a nutritional diet, seasonally-appropriate clothing, in-person and video contact visitation privileges and religious ministrations in every committed person’s belief.
House Bill 4218 passed unanimously out of the House and Senate, and is now on the Governor’s desk awaiting signature.
“One of the main goals of incarceration is rehabilitation, but when we treat the incarcerated as second-class citizens, that rehabilitation becomes much harder,” Hernandez said. “Fair treatment of people in our jails and prisons is not just a human rights issue, it’s an issue of public safety. We’re fighting to reduce recidivism and ease inmates’ transitions into normal society, but if they are regularly dehumanized, that won’t happen.”