Hot off the appalling reports on children being duct taped to chairs with bags over their heads in detention centers, and prisoners—including children—being kept in solitary confinement for months and sometimes years straight, the Virginia Department of Corrections, and Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran are once again making headlines for their shameful and embarrassing disregard for human decency.
This time they’ve instituted a new policy for women who are VISITING the prison. Due to alleged (completely unsubstantiated by any data) concerns that visitors will smuggle contraband to the prisoners, women visiting may no longer wear tampons or menstrual cups. If they arrive wearing these, they will be subjected to strip search, body cavity search, or be denied visitation and have their visitation permissions reviewed.
This is an obscene invasion of women’s rights and another subversive attempt to control women’s bodies. Note that female visitors are already subjected to a restrictive and sexist dress code and mandatory pat downs.
What a ridiculous way to respond to an unsubstantiated “crisis.” There’s plenty of evidence that corrections officers themselves are quite often the source of contraband substances getting to prisoners (see this famous case in Virginia). Perhaps we should switch to unguarded prisons, you know, to prevent overdoses. Better yet, how about if we start having some transparency and oversight of the Department of Corrections, instead of Secretary Moran giving them a free pass to stomp on the civil and human rights of the incarcerated population and their families and friends?