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November 11, 2019

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The Inequities Between Men & Women Extend to Prison Life As Well

If you ever experience the misfortune of being a woman sentenced to the VADOC, I hope you don't have to use the bathroom. While every male offender housed in a cell in the VADOC has a toilet in their cell, women are not afforded the same living conditions as our male counterparts. In general population, there are no toilets in our cells.

Effective August 9, 2016, former Fluvanna Warden Tammy Brown issued a memo to all staff and offenders stating that the practice of locking offenders in their cells would come to an end to allow us toilet access on as needed basis. This memo did not come from the kindness of the warden's heart. It was the result of offenders filing grievances attacking this practice simultaneously combined with Attorney Steven Rosenfield notifying VADOC Director Harold Clarke about the lack of toilet access.

Recently, Housing Unit Six at FCCW has gone back to the practice of locking offenders in their cells despite the fact that our current warden, Eric Aldridge, knows this is not supposed to happen. This inhumane practice has also begun at VCCW.

If you take diuretics, laxatives, or have a digestive disorder like me, toilet access on an as needed basis is critical. It's a basic human need that is being wholly disregarded. When locked in our cells, you have an intercom system that is to be used to communicate with staff. You press a button and ask the officer on duty to let you out of your cell to use the bathroom. More often than not, no matter how many times you press the button, they don't respond. If they do, it is with statements such as "pee in your cup" or my personal favorite, "use a trash bag".

I have been forced to defecate in a trash bag in lieu of using an actual toilet more times than I can count. It has been the most degrading, humiliating, and dehumanizing experience of my life! The VADOC currently has no policy in place to address this issue nor is there any such law to prevent this this from happening. The female offender population of the VADOC deserve the exact same unrestricted toilet access as their male counterparts, we are not receiving it and we desperately need your help.

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