Richmond, VA (WTKR) — Women visiting friends, family, and loved ones incarcerated in Virginia prisons will no longer be allowed to wear a tampon during that visit once a new Virginia Department of Corrections policy goes into effect next month.
“If someone chooses to visit a Virginia Department of Corrections inmate, he or she cannot have anything hidden inside a body cavity,” Virginia Department of Corrections Director of Communications Lisa Kinney explained. “There have been many instances in which visitors have attempted to smuggle drugs into our prisons by concealing those drugs in a body cavity, including the vagina. In consultation with the Attorney General’s office, 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.”
When potential contraband is discovered during a body scan, that visitor must either submit to a strip search or leave the facility, Kinney said.
“It’s our job to keep the offenders and staff as safe as we can,” she added. “We know that people who have loved ones in Virginia prisons don’t want visitors to be able to smuggle in lethal drugs, putting their loved ones’ lives in danger.”
News 3’s Margaret Kavanagh met up with a local woman who is furious over the state’s new policy.
Kristian Jones makes regular visits to see her loved one, Jemond Townes, who has three more years left in his sentence.
“During visitation over the weekend we were told to read a note that was posted,” Jones said.
The note told visitors that beginning next month, they are not allowed to wear tampons when visiting prisons.
“I think it’s disgusting. I think it’s inhumane. It’s unsanitary,” she said. “I understand keeping drugs out of the prison, but if we’re honest here a lot of drugs go in through other ways – not just through the women, not just through the visitors.”
Prison officials say there have been inmates who have died of drug overdoses while in custody and say it’s their job to keep offenders and staff as safe as they can.
However, people like Jones say it’s going a bit too far.
“I understand keeping the inmates safe, keeping the CEOs safe – you definitely don’t want any issues there but to literally have to remove a tampon and take what you give me, it’s just… it’s gruesome.”
According to WTVR, calls are also being made to jails in Richmond, Henrico and Chesterfield to determine policies at those facilities.