elections, politicians, politics, true crime, Trump

Self-appointed masters of the drop boxes…

Happy Tuesday morning to all. Yesterday, Bill, who has been feeling under the weather, finally took a COVID test to see if he was infected with the virus. Some people who were TDY with him in Bavaria had gotten positive results. Sure enough, he’s got the bug, so he’s working from home today. I told him days ago that he shouldn’t go in to work, because he’d be spreading his germs. Did he listen to me? Naw. Oh well… guess my MPH degree didn’t help this time. 😉 Fortunately, he’s not very sick. He just has the pesky head cold version of COVID. So far, I’m not feeling sick, either, but then I had COVID a few months ago. Maybe my immune system is working. I’m glad we didn’t go out and do anything over the weekend.

I keep watching the news about the upcoming elections. There are some truly vile candidates running for office, which is worrisome for those of us who long for leaders who are respectable. However, even though I don’t like the MAGA candidates at all, I still firmly believe that people should be allowed to vote for whomever they wish. That’s part of being in a free society. I don’t like it when people try to tell me who I should vote for, so I try not to do it to anyone else. Yes, I express disdain people like Donald Trump, and I don’t understand the appeal of having him, or people who “lead” like him, back in office. But I still believe that people should be allowed to vote freely, even if I disagree with their choices. I feel that way because I want the same privilege for myself.

I was dismayed to hear about people in Arizona lurking around drop boxes, watching people dropping off ballots, taking pictures of them and their license plates, and in some cases, actually confronting them. This morning, Bill told me about an video on CNN about a woman in Arizona who was hanging out near a drop box and confronted two armed men. The woman in the story appeared to be on the liberal side of the divide, but there have also been some from the more conservative side, some of whom are bringing their guns with them. I said, “Eventually, someone is going to get hurt or killed for meddling in other people’s attempts to cast ballots.”

This is insane.

As I’ve mentioned more than once, things have changed a lot in my lifetime. I’ve been around for 50 years now, and I’ve never seen or heard of this kind of foolishness surrounding elections prior to the Trump era. People have lost faith in the voting system, and some of them are taking it upon themselves to interfere with the process. There’s actually a significant population that believes our elections are fraudulent, simply because Trump didn’t win in 2020. They can’t fathom why he wasn’t chosen over Joe Biden. I just don’t get it, though. To me, it’s very EASY to see why Trump didn’t win. I may not think Joe Biden is the most exciting or dynamic person to lead the country, but it’s least he’s a basically decent person.

This is crazy!

Donald Trump has a history of corruption that runs for miles, and he’s a proponent for violence and disorder. He’s flat out expressed admiration for autocrats; he’s had many failed businesses and marriages; and he refuses to play fairly, even with our allies. Moreover, he doesn’t care about other people; he only cares about money and power, and he says and does embarrassing things that make the United States look like a Banana Republic. To me, this is very obvious. In my opinion, Trump doesn’t have any traits that good leaders possess. All he has is superficial charisma, which he uses to wind up people who are motivated by the same things that motivate him. But they don’t seem to understand that he doesn’t give a shit about them, and neither do his acolytes. Once those people get in power, they will proceed in screwing over everyone.

Still… I realize that these are just my opinions. I understand that other people feel differently. They think Trump is awesome, and they will vote for candidates who support him, like Kari Lake, who has said that she will only accept the results of her run for governor if she is declared the winner. I say, it is certainly their right, as Americans, to vote as they see fit without interference. All I want is the same opportunity. Fortunately, I voted absentee, which is still okay if you live abroad. I doubt the candidates I voted for will win, but at least I tried. And no one brandished a gun in my presence when I voted, because I did it in the privacy of my own home, in a country where far fewer people own weapons.

People have lost their minds.

I still like to hope that there are still reasonable people in the United States. Even if they don’t like liberal policies, I would hope they would make a choice for sanity. I, for one, am not a big fan of extreme liberalism. Politically, I would describe myself as deep purple. But I am NOT ever voting for MAGA Republican extremists. They are dangerous, and they are turning my homeland into a place I don’t recognize. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. I long for the day when it seemed like the government was run by adults with a sense of decorum. Maybe those days are gone forever. Once again, I find myself glad that I never had kids.

The drop boxes are a good thing for people who can’t make it to polling locations. These are folks who don’t have access to transportation, sick, elderly, or disabled people, or maybe those who have to work when the polls are open. They are Americans, too, and they deserve the right to vote, just as much as someone more privileged does. For all of the complaining conservatives do about people getting “free stuff” and grifting taxpayer dollars, they don’t seem to understand that their “dear leader” is the biggest grifter of all. And people who are stuck in poverty are not inherently criminals or “stupid”. It’s not a crime to be poor, and someone who has the misfortune of being impoverished doesn’t necessarily “deserve” that fate. Drop boxes help make elections more fair, because they allow more people access. But conservatives are afraid that people who make less money– some of whom are non-whites– won’t vote for their candidates. They’re afraid that straight, white people will be less powerful, and less relevant. So they bring their guns to the drop boxes and meddle in other people’s voting.

When I read about these people with their guns, voluntarily taking it upon themselves to “oversee” the drop boxes, all I can think is that eventually, someone is going to get hurt. Someone is going to end up in prison because they have been misguided into believing in conspiracy theories. Some families are going to be forever changed, in a multitude of negative ways, because of that misguided belief.

I like to hope that some of the people who believe that the elections are rigged are, overall, decent folks. But then someone gets hurt or killed or even just psychologically traumatized, and it ends up in the news. It’s just ludicrous.

Anyway, our votes are on their way to Texas. I wish us all luck.

Standard
domestic violence, LDS, true crime

Lori Vallow Daybell’s son, Colby, is now in jail…

In February of this year, I finally got around to reading about Lori and Chad Daybell, when I reviewed John Glatt’s 2022, The Doomsday Mother: Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell, and the End of an American Family. For a long time, I had purposely avoided reading about this horrific murder case, because it was just one of those stories that had the potential to give me nightmares. But I finally got around to reading the whole, comprehensive story about Lori Vallow, who was born Lori Cox. She’s a woman who has had many husbands, all of whom have eventually ended up alienated. More than a couple of them are now dead. In fact, many people with dealings with Lori and Chad Daybell have died, either due to medical conditions, or foul play.

Lori Vallow Daybell’s daughter, Tylee, was one of the two children who were allegedly murdered by Lori’s current husband, Chad Daybell, and buried in a pet cemetary on Chad’s property. The other murdered child was Lori’s adopted son, J.J., who was her ex husband, Charles Vallow’s, grandnephew. Charles Vallow was killed by Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, who shot him twice in the chest. Chad’s first wife, Tammy, was poisoned until she died. As I mentioned… a whole lot of people who have had dealings with Lori and her associates are now dead or suffering.

Even a woman who had taken part in a 2007 radio contest run by Alex Cox, who had been a morning disc jockey at the time, wound up dead because she “held her wee for a Wii” and became afflicted with water intoxication. Alex Cox is now himself dead, having died of natural causes just a couple of weeks after getting married. His alleged crimes against Charles Vallow were still being investigated when he perished. There was some speculation that Alex may have also been involved with the murders of Tylee and J.J.

It seems like most everything that has been touched by Lori Daybell has turned into tragedy. That includes her one living child, Colby, who was born to Lori and her second husband, William Lagioia. As was Lori’s habit, she alienated Colby from Lagioia, then got her third husband, Joe Ryan (father of Tylee) to adopt him. Ryan, of course, was later alienated from his biological daughter Tylee, when he and Lori split. After surviving an attempt Alex Cox made on his life, Joe died alone of heart disease. Of course, if there is such a thing as an afterlife, perhaps Joe Ryan and his daughter have reconciled in the great beyond… Who knows?

This morning I read that 26 year old Colby Ryan is now in jail in Arizona, having been arrested for sex crimes. According to county public records, this past weekend, Ryan was booked into Maricopa County Jail on two counts of domestic violence sexual assault.

Colby Ryan in court.

The woman who complained to the police about Colby Ryan’s alleged sexual deviances, explained that he had visited her last week, two days before she went to the police. They had watched television, and Colby had apparently decided he wanted to have sexual intercourse. The victim tried to rebuff him, but Colby was determined, even after she clearly said “no”. She claims he forced her to have sex with him. After the assault, the woman locked herself in her bedroom, and Colby slept on her couch.

The next day, the victim secretly recorded a conversation she’d had with Colby Ryan. In it, he admits that he raped her. She later sought medical attention and a nurse completed a rape exam kit. The victim’s clothing was tested for DNA. On Saturday evening, police arrested Ryan, who allegedly admitted several times that he had sexually assaulted the woman after she had said “no” to his advances more than once.

Colby Ryan is expected to appear in court next week. He’s now in jail on a $10,000 cash bond. Given that most of his immediate family is either dead or incarcerated, my guess is that he’s going to be sitting in jail for awhile.

I’m not sorry to hear that Colby Ryan in in jail for what he allegedly did. The woman did all the right things, particularly in seeking medical attention promptly and reporting the crime to the police. Clearly, if what she’s said about Colby’s behavior is accurate, he belongs in jail. Rape is a felony, and it’s important that rapists are held accountable. The judge did tell Colby Ryan that if he is released, he will have to wear an electric monitor.

On the other hand, it does make me kind of sad to read that another member of Lori’s family is going down a dark road. I know some families have their share of tragedies, and clearly Lori’s has, even though most of the tragedies have been caused by her incredibly selfish and criminal behaviors. I do think Lori Vallow Daybell is mentally ill, but I also think she’s a criminal. And unfortunately, sometimes criminals share their proclivities with people who are close to them, either through genetics, or by setting a very poor example. I don’t know why Colby Ryan did what he did. It does sound like he had some remorse. However, he still has to be punished.

I feel sorry for all of the children who were raised by Lori, even Chad, who was the only one to survive, but has apparently turned into a criminal himself. His start in life was racked with instability, to include being alienated from his biological father, adopted by his stepfather, and then alienated from him, too, as his mother moved on to Charles Vallow. Chad has lost so much in his 26 years– his bio dad, his stepdad, his sister and adopted brother, and another stepdad, are all dead. His mother and current stepdad are now sitting behind bars. And now Chad is behind bars, and will likely do some time in prison.

I’ll probably keep an eye on this case, even though the whole Lori Vallow Daybell drama gives me the creeps. Talk about a fucked up family…

Standard
book reviews, healthcare, law, politicians, politics

Today, in the United States of Gilead…

Special thanks to my friend “Naphtalia” (not her real name) for today’s featured photo!

It’s another very warm morning in Germany. I kind of hate this time of year in Germany, because while it rarely gets as hot here as it does in my native Virginia or God forsaken Texas, air conditioning is a rarity. That makes for some uncomfortable days when it’s high summer, even with all the shades pulled down and a couple of portable air conditioners. I never run both ACs at the same time, either, because I don’t want to run up a big electric bill. They do electric bills differently here, though. Instead of charging different amounts based on monthly use, they do a yearly average and adjust at the end of the year. But still, I don’t want to be an energy hog, if I can help it.

Bill just bought oil for our house, to get us through the winter. This year, it cost about $1000 more than it did last year, thanks to Putin’s war against Ukraine. Fortunately, we’re able to afford it pretty easily. We stay in Germany largely because Bill makes really good money over here, but also because the lifestyle is much nicer, people are saner and less violent, and it’s cool to be able to drive to so many countries. That doesn’t mean I don’t think of home often, though. Missing my uncle’s funeral the other day was another reminder that I’ve been gone a long time, and I’ve seen a lot of beloved relatives for the last time. The United States is my home, but it doesn’t feel much like home anymore. People seem to be absolutely batshit nuts.

Still, I was delighted to read about Kansas yesterday, and voters’ decisions to vote for allowing abortion access. I think that was a rude wake up call for the more sensible Republicans out there. They overplayed their hand, and they will probably pay for it with some really tough elections. I have read about some scary elections results in Arizona, though, and apparently the Trump loyalists, drunk on the stolen election Kool-Aid rhetoric, are leading the way to Gilead inspired insanity. Not surprisingly, reasonable Republican, Rusty Bowers, who heroically testified in the January 6th sessions, was defeated by his Trump supporting opponent. I watched Bowers speak about January 6th again, the other day, and noticed that he was almost moved to tears. I was almost moved to tears listening to him, even though I don’t like his politics or religious beliefs. Bowers is a man of integrity, and those types are rapidly leaving the Republican Party.

I don’t think people realize that the power mad conservatives want to enslave them… keep them disenfranchised and begging for jobs that don’t pay enough. Keeping people pregnant, especially if they aren’t financially or health wise prepared for pregnancy, is certainly a big part of keeping them poor. The abortion bans are already proving dangerous for people who legitimately need to terminate pregnancies for health reasons, that they should be allowed to keep private. Personally, I am less concerned about no access to abortion than I am that politicians will soon push an agenda that makes healthcare privacy a thing of the past.

Health information is a very powerful asset, and getting people comfortable with the idea of giving up their confidentiality when it comes to health matters is a big step toward keeping them down. I don’t believe these folks will stop with denying abortion and contraception access. They would like to tear apart legal privacy protections for the citizenry, so they promote bullshit about the “sanctity of life” as a reason to deny abortions to people who want or need them, while idiots like Colorado legislator Lauren Boebert crow about their ridiculous gun control theories. Yesterday, I watched a video about how she claims people in Venezuela are eating dogs because they can’t have guns. Seriously!

Well worth watching, if only because the guy who made this video is awesome. Lauren’s personal assets don’t include having a functioning brain.

I read last night that extremely pro-life Indiana Representative Jackie Walorski, just two weeks shy of her 59th birthday, died in a car crash. Two of her staffers died with her. I didn’t know anything about Walorski until last night, when I saw the article from Reuters. I went to her Facebook page, where she had just recently posted about visiting a “crisis pregnancy center” in Indiana. Crisis pregnancy centers are places where a pro-life agenda is pushed. The goal is to get the person considering abortion to change their minds, sometimes by the unethical use of misinformation or religious dogma.

The comments were pretty bananas, as people squabbled over their respective political views. One guy was especially disgusting toward the pro-choice women who were commenting. Only a few realized, at that point, that Ms. Walorski is no longer among the living and won’t be pushing her pro-life agenda anymore. I only hope that whoever replaces her is more moderate in their views. Like a lot of people, I am tired of being held hostage by politicians who think their religious beliefs have any place in making laws that affect everyone. On the other hand, I see some really ugly comments about her sudden death, including the one below…

No matter what I might think about Jackie Walorski’s politics, I’m sure she had many loved ones. This is not any better than the awful things conservatives say to liberals.
Ouch.

I don’t cheer for Jackie Walorski’s sudden death, but I really hope with all my heart that whomever takes her place will have more heart and sense for moderation. The country is being torn apart by extremism, and it will lead to even more very ugly things in the future, if something isn’t done soon.

Last night, I finished reading Black Beauty to Bill, and once again, I was shocked by how relevant that book is, even today. It was written in 1877, but it addresses animal rights, politics, and religion, and how politics and religion can turn people into insufferable assholes. Here are just a couple of quotes from the book, one of which I recently shared a few days ago.

“Your master never taught you a truer thing,” said John; “there is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast it is all a sham—all a sham, James, and it won’t stand when things come to be turned inside out.”

Sewell, Anna. Black Beauty (p. 46). True Sign Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

“Well, a man who gets rich by that trade may be all very well in some ways, but he is blind as to what workingmen want; I could not in my conscience send him up to make the laws. I dare say they’ll be angry, but every man must do what he thinks to be the best for his country.

Sewell, Anna. Black Beauty (p. 142). True Sign Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

“My boy, I hope you will always defend your sister, and give anybody who insults her a good thrashing—that is as it should be; but mind, I won’t have any election blackguarding on my premises. There are as many ‘blue’ blackguards as there are ‘orange’, and as many white as there are purple, or any other color, and I won’t have any of my family mixed up with it. Even women and children are ready to quarrel for the sake of a color, and not one in ten of them knows what it is about.

“Why, father, I thought blue was for Liberty.” “My boy, Liberty does not come from colors, they only show party, and all the liberty you can get out of them is, liberty to get drunk at other people’s expense, liberty to ride to the poll in a dirty old cab, liberty to abuse anyone that does not wear your color, and to shout yourself hoarse at what you only half-understand—that’s your liberty!”

“Oh, father, you are laughing.”

“No, Harry, I am serious, and I am ashamed to see how men go on who ought to know better. An election is a very serious thing; at least it ought to be, and every man ought to vote according to his conscience, and let his neighbor do the same.

Sewell, Anna. Black Beauty (p. 143). True Sign Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

I announced to some Facebook friends that I was reading Black Beauty to Bill, and one of them, a British lady who used to teach school in Britain, said it would have him in tears. Sure enough, it did. Black Beauty has a happy ending, but it really is a very good book that tugs at the heartstrings, and it’s surprisingly relevant today, on many levels. I’m glad I read it again as an adult (it was never meant to be children’s literature), and I’m so glad I shared it with Bill. He loved it, and never would have read it on his own. It’s a great book for animal lovers– especially horse lovers– but I think everyone should read it. Anna Sewell was very wise. Her book promotes common sense and compassion, not just toward animals, but also toward human beings. And it’s a reminder that things were bananas in the 19th century, too.

Anyway… it’s going to be another steamy day in Germany, and I’m in the middle of changing the sheets, and will soon be vacuuming, which is not my favorite thing to do. So I guess I’ll end this post and get on with it. Let’s hope for better news in the coming days.

Standard
LDS, politicians, politics, Trump

Rusty Bowers is one decent American… wish there were more of them in the Republican Party.

Special thanks to Gage Skidmore for use of a cropped version of his photo, which appears on Russell Bowers’ Wikipedia page.

I’ve been pretty busy since I got home from Belgium yesterday, and because I woke up feeling a little icky this morning, I needed a nap. However, I did manage to read one article about the Arizona House Speaker and Republican who put his foot down against Donald Trump and his goons, who insisted that Biden won the presidential election fraudulently. Bowers had voted for Donald Trump and campaigned for him. But he was unwilling to violate the law for him by overturning the 2020 Arizona election results. Rudy Giuliani, a man who was once lauded for the way he handled 9/11 as the Mayor of New York City, came to Bowers and tried to convince him to cheat for Trump. Giuliani told Bowers they had “theories” but no evidence, that the 2020 results were “rigged” against Donald Trump.

This is a brave and ethical man. Bravo to Russell Bowers. As Americans, we should demanding that ALL of our lawmakers are more like Bowers than Trump.

Bowers, who is an artist, storyteller, and devout Mormon, declared that he would not be fixing the results of the election in Trump’s favor. He explained that his faith teaches that the Constitution is divinely inspired, and he took an oath to uphold it. He would NOT be violating his oath for Trump, even though Trump was the candidate he supported. When Giuliani and his lawyer, Jenna Ellis, as well as other Arizona GOP lawmakers pressed him, Bowers said no. And when he testified in Washington, DC about what happened in January 2021, Bowers reiterated. According to the Washington Post:

“I will not do that, and,” Bowers testified, pausing to control his emotions. “On more than one — on more than one occasion throughout all this it has been brought up. And it is a tenet of my faith that the Constitution is divinely inspired — of my most basic foundational beliefs. And so for me to do that because somebody just asked me to is foreign to my very being.

“I will not do it.”

Because Bowers wouldn’t cheat for Trump, he was subjected to death threats and protests. People openly ridiculed him, even mocking him in parades. Trump supporters pushed to recall Bowers, passing out flyers falsely accusing him of child molestation and corruption. Bowers’ daughter, Kacey, was dying as her father was being maligned. His wife, a strong, silent, valiant woman, was standing by as people attacked her husband for simply doing his job and refusing to violate his oath. Kacey died January 28, 2021, and Bowers wonders if her death was hastened by the stress of dealing with Trump supporters who wanted him to “win” by cheating.

On August 2, Bowers faces a new election, and it looks likely that he will lose. However, I think even if he loses, he’s already won, by doing the RIGHT thing and not bowing to pressure. Bowers is a man of religious faith, a strong believer in Mormonism, which I know has its problems. But one thing Bowers can rest assured of is that he has integrity and decency. He may not be re-elected in Arizona politics, but he can hold his head high, because Trump supporters WILL be on the WRONG side of history, just as Hitler supporters were. The more that comes out about what was going on in Washington, DC during Trump’s tenure, the more it becomes clear to me that the man is a menace. And there will come a day when people won’t want to associate with him.

When Bowers was testifying, he read from a journal entry he wrote in December 2020:

“I may, in the eyes of men, not hold correct opinions or act according to their vision or convictions, but I do not take this current situation in a light manner, a fearful manner or a vengeful manner,” he said. “I do not want to be a winner by cheating. I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to. With any contrived desire toward deflection of my deep, foundational desire to follow God’s will as I believe he led my conscience to embrace. How else will I ever approach him in the wilderness of life knowing that I ask this guidance only to show myself a coward in defending the course … he led me to take.”

I’m not a big fan of religion, and I’m really not a fan of Mormonism… but I would say that if the Mormon version of God influenced Bowers to do the right thing by his office, that’s certainly one point in its favor as a belief system. I wish there weren’t so many other issues with the church… like the way it treats people who are homosexual, or don’t want to be LDS anymore… divorced and single women, and the way some members feel emboldened to do Baptisms for the Dead for people who clearly had no interest in Mormonism. On the other hand, there were decent people in the church who helped younger daughter escape her mother’s abusive clutches. So my opinions about Mormonism have softened somewhat for that reason… and reading about Rusty Bowers doing the right thing because of his faith is another reason. Also, I see in his photo that he has a nice smile… probably because he doesn’t drink coffee, tea, or red wine. 😉

Personally, I don’t think it was the church that led to this decision. I think Bowers is simply a good and decent man who plays by the rules. I don’t think a person has to be a believer in a deity to be decent or good. But if having strong religious faith helps one decide to do the right thing, I’m all for it. On the other hand, I know there are many men of “faith” who would have justified cheating for Trump as “God’s will”, the same way they justified his election– a man who is about as far from decent and good as a person can get.

I wish Rusty Bowers well… not just because he’s an honorable, honest, and patriotic man, but also because he has the same nickname my beloved pony had. If it turns out he loses the next election, I hope he will go on to do something rewarding for himself and his wife. I’m sure they need time to heal, especially having lost their daughter during that awful time. Maybe now is a good time to jump off the sinking Trump version of the Republican ship.

If there were more Republicans like Rusty around, I might consider voting for them again. Sadly, too many Republicans are more concerned about money and power and not pissing off a narcissistic asshole than being decent and honorable. Shame on them.

Donald Trump is a criminal who needs to go to prison. I doubt it will ever happen, but I sure would vote for it. The more I read about what happened after Trump LOST the election, the angrier I get that he was ever allowed to run for president. We’ve GOT to do better.

ETA: I read that Mr. Bowers would still vote for Trump if he ran against Biden, and I think that’s not a good thing. But I also think people should be free to vote their consciences. Like I said– I don’t agree with his politics or his religion, but I appreciate that he was brave enough and had enough integrity to uphold his oath. That is admirable, given the pressure he was under not to do right by the American people and Arizona.

Standard
healthcare, law, politics, rants, YouTube

Women behind bars are having a bloody awful time handling their periods…

Last week, I wrote a post about how adorable YouTuber, Mama Doctor Jones, who is an OB-GYN and mom to four, did a video about a woman who had a baby while she was incarcerated. I was really moved by Mama Doctor Jones’ reaction video to Jessica Kent’s story. Next thing I knew, I was on Jessica Kent’s YouTube channel, which is full of interesting videos about her time in prison. Jessica Kent is tiny, well-spoken, and apparently sober, having spent much of her youth in trouble with the law.

I haven’t yet familiarized myself with all of Jessica’s story, but I have watched a bunch of her videos. As I listen to how this fiery young woman wound up on the wrong side of the law, I can’t help but wonder what might have happened to her if she’d never gotten arrested. She’s very bright and articulate, and I think she’s determined to go far. Jessica has obviously embraced the power of the Internet, and has a presence all over social media. She’s pursuing a college degree, but I wonder if she’s already making a lot of money creating videos for YouTube.

Last night, I watched a video by Jessica Kent that made me very angry. It was about how she and her fellow female inmates in Arkansas were forced to make tampons out of the maxi pads doled out to them. Jessica explains that female prisoners in Arkansas are not given tampons and, in fact, can only get really poor quality maxi pads– and just two per day at that. Jessica says the pads are state issued, and she’s never seen the type of pads the state issues for sale outside of the prison walls. Because the pads are so poorly made, they have to be turned into tampons, which last longer than the pads do. So Jessica made a video to demonstrate how to make the tampons.

This is absolutely infuriating!

More than once, Jessica implores her viewers not to try to make these “tampons” at home, since the pad she’s using is not really the type she would have used in prison. Apparently, the pads we can get at the store are too “cottony” and “powdery”. In any case, I can’t imagine why someone would want to make a tampon like this if they weren’t incarcerated and forced to do so.

Jessica says that not all states have this draconian limit on feminine hygiene supplies in their prisons. For instance, when she was incarcerated in her home state of New York, Jessica had no problem getting all she needed for that little feminine monthly chore. New York, of course, is a blue state, and human rights are apparently more valued up north.

For some reason, the powers that be running the prisons in Arkansas think that two maxi pads per day are all a female prison inmate needs when she’s menstruating. I think about my own menstrual habits and realize how disgusting and unhygienic that is. As a woman, and a person with a public health educational background, it amazes me that prison officials in Arkansas are allowed to get away with this practice. At the very least, it seems like it would be a serious health risk to everyone who is incarcerated. Many diseases, some of which cannot be cured, are spread via blood exposure. Plus, it’s just so nasty!

I read in another article that, in some prisons, women who can’t get proper feminine hygiene supplies will pass up visits with family or their attorneys when they have their periods. They have to wait until they can get their laundry done, before they’re not sitting in their own blood. Kimberly Haven, the author of that article, writes that before and after each visit, inmates are strip searched, and have to squat and cough. The whole process is so demoralizing and horrifying that a lot of female inmates would prefer to skip it, even though attorneys and family members are powerful advocates for the inmates.

In another article, I read about how, in Connecticut, two female cellmates would have to share five state issued maxi pads among themselves. Every woman is different, of course, so there’s no way to tell how long a period is going to be and how often feminine hygiene products need to be changed. But the inmates in Connecticut also had to learn how to stretch their products out, sometimes by reusing them. The inmates in Connecticut could purchase supplies from the commissary, but for those who don’t have money, that $2.63 cost might mean one less phone call home or not being able to pay for a visit to the prison doctor. Also, realize that prison jobs often pay very little– like 20 or 30 cents an hour. It takes a long time to make enough money to buy the proper supplies if there’s no one on the outside helping.

I have stated before in this blog that I’m not a big fan of incarceration, but I especially dislike inhumane treatment toward people who are incarcerated. Yes, it’s true that the best thing for anyone to do is to avoid going to prison in the first place, but people who are locked up are not going to improve their behavior if they’re treated cruelly. Forcing women to handle their body functions in this way is demeaning and cruel, and it doesn’t deter crime. Prison is supposed to be unpleasant– it shouldn’t be dangerous and unhealthy.

According to my reading:

In 2017, then-Sen. Kamala Harris and her colleagues Sens. Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Richard Durbin introduced a bill to provide free menstrual products to incarcerated people in federal women’s prisons. The Federal Bureau of Prisons issued a guidance memo, separate from Harris’ bill, mandating that menstrual products be available to all incarcerated people in federal correctional facilities at no cost shortly after. In 2018, Congress passed the First Step Act, a more general justice reform effort that included access to menstrual products. 

So… if you’re a woman who goes to a federal lockup, or a prison in a blue state, you’re more likely to be able to take care of these basic body function needs. But there’s no legislation in most states that require state prisons to accommodate menstrual periods. Frankly, I think that’s a sin, and I would love to see some high profile lawsuits happen that force states to do a better job in this area. In a wealthy country like the United States, this unsanitary practice should be outlawed. We’re supposed to be “better” than this… although I think many Americans are fooling themselves thinking that the United States is a civilized country. When we have female prisoners who are sitting in their own menstrual blood every month for want of adequate feminine hygiene supplies, we’ve lost the right to refer to ourselves as “civilized”.

It’s also unfair that prisons don’t automatically take care of this issue, since this is not a problem that male prisoners have to face. In fact, men don’t even need toilet paper as much as women do, but according to Jessica’s videos, women in Arkansas prisons only get two rolls a week. That’s really not much, especially when it’s that time of the month. But a lot of men involved with making laws don’t want to hear about this problem. It’s too “gross” for them. The first paragraph of an article in the Public Health Post opens with:

When Arizona’s all-male House of Representatives heard House Bill 2222 on feminine hygiene products, Representative Jay Lawrence said “I’m almost sorry I heard the bill…I didn’t expect to hear about pads and tampons and the problems of periods.” Introduced by Rep. Athena Salman, Arizona House Bill 2222 allocates funds to provide women in state prisons with unlimited and free access to feminine hygiene products. Access to sanitary menstrual products is considered a basic human right in European prisons. Not so in the US.

Wow, Jay… you’ve shown us just who you are with your lack of compassion or comprehension of how necessary it is for you, and your male colleagues, to hear a bill about providing necessary supplies for women who menstruate. I wonder if Jay Lawrence can even fathom how humiliating and shaming it is for a woman to have to deal with this problem when she can’t get the supplies she needs. Does he have any women in his life that he loves? What an asshole.

Aside from how gross, messy, and unsanitary this problem is, the practice of turning pads into tampons could potentially be unsafe or even deadly. Consider that the inmates probably don’t have the cleanest surfaces for improvising these products and they may not be able to keep themselves optimally clean. Then they’re sticking the tampons into their body orifices, where the improvised tampon might abrade the skin or otherwise introduce pathogens into the body. An inmate could potentially get very sick or even wind up with toxic shock syndrome doing this. Toxic shock syndrome can lead to sepsis, which can cause a person to lose limbs or even their lives.

A tampon did this to Lauren Wasser.

Model Lauren Wasser, who was not incarcerated when she left a tampon in too long and got toxic shock syndrome, lost BOTH of her legs to the sickness. She very nearly died.

I know a lot of people don’t care about the plight of prisoners. Personally, I still see them as human beings who are entitled to decent, respectful, and humane care when they are incarcerated. And part of being humane is making it possible for people in custody to be able to take care of private, personal body functions like menstrual periods. I know I would support legislation requiring that clean and hygienic feminine hygiene products be made available to women in prisons. I hope others can see how important this is.

And… once again… I am so glad menopause is around the corner.

Standard