Work in Annapolis

Testimony in Support of General Assembly Legislation

 

Testimony in Support of HB 0208 – Public Schools – Provision of Menstrual Hygiene Products

WRITTEN TESTIMONY IN SUPPORT OF
HB0208 – Public Schools – Provision of Menstrual Hygiene Products
January 30, 2020

Maryland NOW believes in the ability of students to have access to education without having to suffer from anxiety or stigma due to natural biological processes, therefore we submit this written testimony today in support of HB0208, introduced by Delegate Kirill Reznik.

In 2019, approximately 43% of Maryland public school students were enrolled for free or reduced-price meals, indicating that these families are struggling to afford basic necessities, including menstrual hygiene products for the students who have achieved menses.

The lack of access to menstrual products can result in many adverse effects for students, including medical issues if products are used longer than recommended, as well as embarrassment or feelings of shame if period leaks occur during school hours. Because of this, many girls would rather miss classes than attend school if they do not have access to adequate menstrual supplies. Educational opportunities are being impacted all because students are unable to afford the supplies that they need while on their period, and students of color from low-income families are disproportionately impacted.

Without shame or fear associated with lack of menstrual hygiene supplies, Maryland students will have more opportunity to be successful in school, and be one step closer to lessening the achievement gap between students of different socioeconomic status. Maryland NOW respectfully asks you to vote yes on HB0208 and bring menstrual equity to Maryland public schools.

Contact:
Jennierose D’Elia-Dufour
(p): 201-303-1015
Council Member, Maryland National Organization for Women
President, Montgomery County National Organization for Women

 

Testimony in Support of SB040 – Sales & Use Tax, Diaper Exemption

WRITTEN TESTIMONY IN SUPPORT OF
SB040 – Sales and Use Tax – Diapers – Exemption
January 8, 2020

Maryland NOW believes in economic justice and equity for all, therefore we submit this written testimony today in support of SB040, introduced by Senator Clarence Lam.

Like adult diapers and menstrual products, infant/children’s diapers are a medical necessity and should be considered as such in terms of taxation. Currently, the state of Maryland is one of two states that only considers adult diapers a medical necessity, and therefore tax exempt, while not offering sales tax relief on children’s diapers.

Children require at least 50 diaper changes a week, or 200 diaper changes per month, depending on the age of the child. When parents cannot afford the cost of diapers, they may delay changing their children’s diapers, which can result in diaper rash, urinary tract infections, and yeast infections. Severe diaper rash can also lead to open sores, which leaves the child vulnerable to more serious infections, such as staph and strep.

Another consideration is that 76% of Maryland children live in households where both parents work. Many daycare providers require parents to provide disposable diapers for their children; so even if parents are utilizing re-usable, cloth diapers at home, they must purchase disposable diapers for daycare. If parents are unable to afford diapers, this may prevent a parent from returning from work, impacting the overall family income level, and could contribute to a cycle of poverty. Parents experiencing diaper need are also at a higher risk for depression, anxiety, and high levels of stress – which is detrimental to the parents and children.

By exempting infant/children’s diapers from sales tax, families would be able to purchase more diapers for less and the state would be taking one step further to even the playing field and help reduce the financial burden to women in the state of Maryland. Maryland NOW respectfully asks you to promote economic justice for Maryland women by voting yes on SB040.

Contact:
Jennierose D’Elia-Dufour
(p): 201-303-1015
Council Member, Maryland National Organization for Women
President, Montgomery County National Organization for Women

 

Testimony in Support of HB 608/SB 683, HB 828/SB 683, & SB 684 – Pre-Release Unit for Women

WRITTEN TESTIMONY IN SUPPORT OF

HB608/SB682; HB 828/SB683 & SB684 – Pre-Release Unit for Women

February 2020

This legislation reinstates a state-run pre-release center for women only. Such a facility was shut down in 2009 by the Department of Corrections.

Advocates will testify that you should pass this legislation because it is fair: it responds to a need to support incarcerated women with services uniquely needed by women1, in addition to the standard pre-release services provided for men. And the thousands of Maryland NOW members and supporters agree with this fairness argument. We certainly believe that women should have the same opportunities as their male counterparts for work release opportunities, counseling and other decision-making support, wellness education, and substance abuse help2. We note that women, many of whom are or were custodial parents, need suitable facilities for bonding opportunities with their children3 and life-coaching to deal with physical and sexual abuse4 and dependency issues for successful integration into their home communities.

Additionally, we believe that Maryland will be economically stronger if its pre-release incarcerated women are enabled to participate in work release – currently not provided to women, teaching them principles of dependability and structure, the financial and intrinsic rewards of hard work, and the joy of being able to provide for their children through activities where the women’s time and training are valued.5

Moreover, it will be less expensive to maintain quality pre-release programs in a free-standing facility, which requires fewer guards and management services than to the same number of women in prisons, which house dangerous offenders in their populations. Women who participate in work release programs and who can interact in a constructive setting with their children learn to integrate into society in a positive, productive manner. They are less at risk of recidivism, so less likely to incur substantial additional state expenditures for incarceration, policing, etc.6

A recent visit to the small Montgomery County-funded pre-release facility in Rockville was illustrative of best practices. While it has only a separate wing for women – with separate key entry system, so reduced risk of inappropriate interactions with guards or male residents, it is apparent that the unimposing structure must be less frightening than any state prison compound to children and other relatives of its residents, encouraging more frequent visits and easier integration with their support systems and their home communities.7

A 2015 report on multi-jurisdictional recidivism by women indicates that 58% of incarcerated women are rearrested, 38% are reconvicted, and 30% are returned to prison in the three years following release from prison..8 Fortunately, numerous reports document decreased costly recidivism when women are afforded appropriate support, different from their male counterparts.

In light of tight state budgets, it makes sense for Maryland to provide facilities and services for its pre-release incarcerated women which will enable job skills, development and the capacity to be a positive member of society. Thus, a separate pre-release facility would enable the women to contribute to our state’s economic development instead of being at a high risk of recidivism, requiring repeated costs for policing and correctional facilities for subsequent offenses.

For the above reasons, as well as others cited by the various supporting organizations and individuals, we urge the support of the Committee for these bills.

_______________________________________

1 Researchers have found that although many of the factors that affect recidivism had gender-neutral effects on criminal behavior, measures such as substance abuse, prior record, education, and having children had more positive impacts on female offenders. See, e.g., Matthew Makarios, Benjamin Steiner & Lawrence F. Travis III (2010) Examining the predictors of recidivism among men and women released from prison in Ohio, CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR at p. 4, DOI: 10.1177/0093854810382876.

2 Studies have indicated that 40% of incarcerated women had used drugs at the time of the offense—a rate higher than that of male offenders, with a possible explanation provided that women abuse drugs “to cope with the pain of abuse”. See, e.g., Craig Dowden & S. L. Brown (2002) The role of substance abuse factors in predicting recidivism: A meta-analysis, PSYCHOLOGY, CRIME AND LAW, 8, 243, at 9; Nancy J. Harm & Susan D. Phillips (2001). You can’t go home again: Women and criminal recidivism. JOURNAL OF OFFENDER REHABILITATION, 32, 3–21, cited in Beth M. Huebner , Christina DeJong & Jennifer Cobbina (2010) Women Coming Home: Long‐Term Patterns of Recidivism, JUSTICE QUARTERLY, 27:2, 225, at 228 (studying female recidivism in 15 states) (finding that “women face unique challenges while under correctional supervision”), DOI: 10.1080/07418820902870486.

3 A majority of women prisoners have children, with estimates of those women living with their children immediately prior to incarceration ranging from 64% to 81%. Female inmates are almost twice as likely as male inmates to report that they had a child of their own living with them prior to their arrest, and significantly less likely to report that their children are living with the other parent during their incarceration. Susan Sharp & Emily Pain (2010) Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth: Study of Incarcerated Women and Their Children, p.2; see also, Huebner et al, at 237.

4 Huebner et al., at 227.

5 See, e.g., Makarios et al., at 9.

6 Huebner, et al., at 245-47.

7 Several studies indicate positive effects of children and families on incarcerated women, including prevention of recidivism. Interviews of incarcerated women indicated that their children were “an important incentive to desist from crime”, Sandra Enos (2001), State University of New York Press, MOTHERING FROM THE INSIDE: PARENTING IN A WOMEN’S PRISON, at 3.

8 Huebner et al., at 226.

Contact:
Linda Mahoney

(p): (301) 648-5484

Past-President, Maryland National Organization for Women

Council Member, Maryland National Organization for Women