“Pads have always been free since I’ve been here,” said Lisa, who has been incarcerated at the federal prison in Waseca, Minnesota, since 2011. “If I had to buy them, I wouldn’t be able to afford them.” There, Lisa—who asked to be referred to by a pseudonym—and other women simply need to walk up to the officer’s desk where pads are available for the taking. “You can take as many as you want, but some guards frown because they have to keep getting them out,” she described in an e-message to Rewire.

But in many prisons across the country, frowns are the least of women’s worries. There, limits are placed on the number of feminine hygiene products women are given; if they need more, they must buy them at the commissary—or prison store—often at prices that are exorbitant for those making pennies-per-hour at prison jobs.

By Victory Law

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