A lawsuit was filed Wednesday against San Luis Obispo County, Sheriff Ian Parkinson and the sheriff’s department, alleging civil rights violations of female inmates over the alleged failure to provide tampons to women who are menstruating.
State law requires that, “each female inmate shall be issued sanitary napkins and/or tampons as needed.” But in the SLO County Jail, women are required to pay $3.23 for a box of 10 tampons.
Attorney Paula Canny filed the lawsuit on behalf of past, present and future female inmates. She is asking the court to require Parkinson to provide all female inmates tampons and sanitary napkins as needed, to provide an accounting of all money collected for tampons and to return all monies the county charged female inmates for tampons.
The county jail has repeatedly violated Title 15’s minimum requirements for state jails, according to state mandated inspection reports. While state reports detail the county’s failures, there are no regulatory penalties.
If county’s refuse to follow the state’ minimum requirements for county jails, civil suits are often the only means to force compliance.
In July 2017, SLO County paid a $5 million settlement to the family of a man who died after jail guards left him strapped in a chair for more than 46 hours. The county also agreed to implement changes at the jail.
Canny, also the attorney for the family of 36-year-old Andrew Holland, hired a team of professionals to inspect the jail and make recommendations to help ensure that in the future inmates will not suffer because of neglect or mistreatment.