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Bureau of Prisons to close Bay Area women's prison at center of sex abuse scandal

Troubled Dublin women's prison at center of sex abuse scandal set to be closed
Troubled Dublin women's prison at center of sex abuse scandal set to be closed 00:39

The federal Bureau of Prisons on Monday announced it plans to close a troubled women's prison in California known as the "rape club" despite attempts to reform the troubled facility, according to the Associated Press.

An in-depth AP investigative report exposed rampant staff-on-inmate sexual abuse at the facility.

Bureau of Prisons Director Colette Peters said in a statement to the AP that the agency had "taken unprecedented steps and provided a tremendous amount of resources to address culture, recruitment and retention, aging infrastructure - and most critical - employee misconduct."

"Despite these steps and resources, we have determined that FCI Dublin is not meeting expected standards and that the best course of action is to close the facility," Peters said. "This decision is being made after ongoing evaluation of the effectiveness of those unprecedented steps and additional resources."

FCI Dublin, about 21 miles east of Oakland, is one of six women-only federal prisons, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. It currently has 605 inmates — 504 inmates in its main prison and another 101 at an adjacent minimum-security camp. That's down from a total of 760 prisoners in February 2022. The women currently housed at the prison will be transferred to other facilities and no employees will lose their jobs, Peters said.

Advocates have called for inmates to be freed from FCI Dublin, which they say is not only plagued by sexual abuse, but also has hazardous mold, asbestos and inadequate health care.

Last month, federal investigators searched the facility after a warden sent to help rehabilitate the facility was accused of retaliating against a whistleblower inmate. FBI agents seized computers and documents in an apparent escalation of a yearslong sexual abuse investigation.   

Days later, a federal judge overseeing lawsuits against the prison, said she would appoint a special master to oversee the facility's operations.

An AP investigation in 2021 found a culture of abuse and cover-ups that had persisted for years at the prison. That reporting led to increased scrutiny from Congress and pledges from the Bureau of Prisons that it would fix problems and change the culture at the prison.

Since 2021, at least eight FCI Dublin employees have been charged with sexually abusing inmates. Five have pleaded guilty. Two were convicted at trial, including the former warden, Ray Garcia. Another case is pending.

Last August, eight FCI Dublin inmates sued the Bureau of Prisons, alleging the agency had failed to root out sexual abuse. Amaris Montes, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said inmates continued to face retaliation for reporting abuse, including being put in solitary confinement and having belongings confiscated.

All sexual activity between a prison worker and an inmate is illegal. Correctional employees have substantial power over inmates, controlling every aspect of their lives from mealtime to lights out, and there is no scenario in which an inmate can give consent.

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