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Sheriff Woods Expresses Frustration Over Menstrual Hygiene Product Funding Crisis


Sheriff Lafayette Woods, Jr.



Major Gary McClain

870.541.5351 Office / 870.329.5638 Cell


SHERIFF WOODS EXPRESSES FRUSTRATION OVER MENSTRUAL HYGIENE PRODUCT FUNDING CRISIS:  Jefferson County, Arkansas - August 29, 2023 - Due to lack of financial support on behalf of the county judge, Sheriff Lafayette Woods, Jr. made the decision to fund essential hygiene products for detainees at the W.C. "Dub" Brassell Adult Detention Center and the Jack Jones Juvenile Justice Center. The costs incurred for sanitary napkins, tampons and liners come directly out of his pockets in the hopes of getting reimbursed. 

"The situation has arisen due to the repeated refusal of County Judge Gerald Robinson and his Chief of Staff, Rosetta Giddens, to process invoices for vendors who have been customarily utilized by my agency for decades," Woods said. "It is with grave concern that I bring it to the attention of the public, as I am deeply frustrated to find myself in the position of having to fund essential menstrual hygiene products for female detainees from my personal bank account in the hope of eventual reimbursement." 

According to Woods, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office (JCSO) use of agency-issued Simmons Corporate credit card can no longer take place due to suspension for non-payment. Without being able to use the credit card for its intended use, a financial burden hangs over Woods and JCSO. 

"Since October 2022, my office has faced numerous challenges due to the continuous denial of valid claims and bills submitted for payment," Woods said. "This denial not only has been arbitrary and capricious, but also severely hampers my ability to operate my office efficiently and effectively, directly impacting the detainees in our care."

Arkansas is one of 25 states that established state laws governing menstrual products in correctional and detention facilities. These laws, pursuant to minimum standards for adult criminal detention facilities, mandate the provision of necessary menstrual hygiene products to female inmates and detainees, as outlined in A.C.A. § 12-32-103, which explicitly states that a correctional or detention facility shall provide the necessary number of hygiene products for female inmates and detainees.

"It is imperative that Jefferson County adheres to these laws and provides essential menstrual hygiene products to those in our custody as mandated by state and federal law," Woods said. "The failure to do so not only violates the rights of those in our care, but also jeopardizes our county's financial stability and standing."

Moreover, the "Menstrual Equity For All Act of 2019" requires that all incarcerated individuals and detainees in our state have access to menstrual hygiene products on demand and at no cost to them. This legislation also ensures that no visitor is prohibited from visiting an incarcerated individual due to their use of menstrual hygiene products. Failure to adhere to the provisions of the "Menstrual Equity For All Act of 2019" could result in a reduction in grant funding by 20% for the following fiscal year.

"I have consistently maintained that this recurring situation hampers my office's day-to-day operations and has detrimental consequences for the credit rating as well as financial credibility of Jefferson County Government as a whole," Woods said. "As all county government departments share the same tax identification number, the financial mismanagement of one department adversely impacts the others."

On August 17, 2023, Judge Robinson forwarded a letter to members of the Quorum Court asserting that their decision not to immediately fund his request for supplemental appropriations associated with departments under his purview, totaling $1,195,962.68, including $457,821.53 for Simmons Bank, justified a "State of Emergency." 

"This decision flies in the face of A.C.A. § 14-14-908, which stipulates that emergency ordinances or amendments may only be enacted to address public emergencies affecting life, health, safety or property," Woods said. "None of these conditions justify Judge Robinson's request- highlighting a concerning double standard when it comes to processing payments for vendors, including Simmons Bank, submitted by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, W.C. "Dub" Brassell Adult Detention Center, and Jack Jones Juvenile Justice Center."

Woods went on to say that for the past several months, Robinson "singled" out at least eight Justices of the Jefferson County Quorum Court by "falsely accusing them of dereliction in their constitutional duties and grossly misrepresenting the truth to Jefferson County taxpayers." 

"My intent in bringing this matter to the public's attention is to seek a fair and just resolution that ensures the efficient functioning of my office and the well-being of Jefferson County Government as a whole," Woods said. "As elected officials entrusted with the welfare of our community, it is our collective responsibility to uphold the highest standards of transparency, accountability and efficiency.