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Inmates lack hygiene products at Missouri jail

Current and former inmates say a rural Missouri county jail has been denying detainees basic necessities such as soap and shampoo.

Allen Towe, of Sikeston, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that female inmates at the Scott County Jail such as his 30-year-old pregnant daughter, Tiffany Vaughn, have even been denied feminine hygiene products.

“Come on,” Towe said. “This is 2019.”

Inmates entering the Scott County Jail in Benton are supposed to receive a bag with deodorant, shampoo, a toothbrush, toothpaste, two bars of soap and a comb. But on Friday, Chief Deputy Ron Merideth said the jail had been out of all of those items except toothpaste for more than two weeks.

Merideth said the sheriff’s department placed an order in October with its supplier for 11 boxes of personal hygiene bags, but the bags were mistakenly sent to Scott County, Iowa. He said he was disappointed that jail administrators chose to wait for another shipment rather than buy the supplies locally. A shipment of hygiene bags showed up Friday night.

The jail’s administrator, Amy Johnson, didn’t immediately reply to a message lefr by The Associated Press seeking comment.

Though everyone is supposed to get a hygiene bag upon entry to the jail, only indigent inmates get a second bag for free after two weeks. Otherwise, hygiene products and other commissary items are available from an electronic kiosk, but delivery takes anywhere from one day to a week to arrive.

Merideth said there is always enough feminine products.

“If they need that stuff, all they need to do is ask,” he said.

Kayla McWhirter, a 28-year-old former inmate from Bertrand, said she wasn’t given any personal hygiene supplies when she was booked on Nov. 19. She said she had been arrested for failing to appear in court involving a case of driving with a suspended license.

She said she was on her period the first three days of her jail stay. Inmates gave her three pads, and she traded a piece of cake for two more. Otherwise, she used toilet paper to get by, she said.

McWhirter was sent to the emergency room when she had intense abdominal pain and high blood pressure. She said she was diagnosed with an umbilical hernia and a urinary tract infection. A doctor prescribed an antibiotic and she returned to jail.

When she was released to go home , she said, jail staff kept the antibiotics she was prescribed a few days prior.

Meridith said the company that handles medical care in the jail doesn’t allow people to go home with medications prescribed while incarcerated.

McWhirter, who doesn’t have health insurance, said she was trying to figure out a way to get the prescription filled for the urinary tract infection. She suspects she got it in jail from using toilet paper instead of clean pads for her period.

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