Bureau of Prisons to shut down women’s facility in Dublin due to widespread inmate sexual abuse

The federal Bureau of Prisons announced plans on Monday to close a women’s prison in California, known as the “rape club,” despite efforts to reform it following an Associated Press investigation that revealed widespread sexual abuse by staff against inmates.

Bureau of Prisons Director Colette Peters stated that the agency had made significant efforts and allocated substantial resources to address issues such as culture, recruitment and retention, aging infrastructure, and employee misconduct at FCI Dublin. However, it was concluded that the facility did not meet expected standards, leading to the decision to close it.

FCI Dublin, located approximately 21 miles east of Oakland, is one of six women-only federal prisons and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. It currently houses 605 inmates, down from 760 in February 2022. The inmates will be transferred to other facilities, and no employees will lose their jobs.

Advocates have called for the release of inmates from FCI Dublin, citing not only sexual abuse but also hazardous conditions like mold, asbestos, and inadequate health care. The FBI recently searched the prison, and the Bureau of Prisons changed its leadership after a warden was accused of retaliating against a whistleblower inmate. A federal judge overseeing lawsuits against the prison has decided to appoint a special master to oversee its operations.

An AP investigation in 2021 uncovered a culture of abuse and cover-ups at the prison, leading to increased scrutiny and promises from the Bureau of Prisons to address the issues and change the culture.

Since 2021, at least eight employees of FCI Dublin have been charged with sexually assaulting inmates. Five have pleaded guilty, two were convicted at trial, including the former warden, Ray Garcia, and another case is still pending.

In August of last year, eight FCI Dublin inmates filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Prisons, claiming that the agency had not effectively addressed sexual abuse. According to Amaris Montes, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, inmates who reported abuse continued to face retaliation, such as being placed in solitary confinement and having their belongings confiscated.

It is illegal for any sexual activity to occur between a prison staff member and an inmate. Correctional employees wield significant power over inmates, controlling every aspect of their lives from meals to lights out, and under no circumstances can an inmate provide consent in such a situation.

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