Dublin, California– Today, the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP), Centro Legal de la Raza, Rights Behind Bars (RBB), and Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP (RBGG) sent a sweeping demand letter to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) detailing significant recent and ongoing abuses at the Federal Correctional Institute at Dublin (FCI Dublin), a federal women’s prison in Dublin California. The letter calls on the BOP and FCI Dublin officials to make immediate changes to begin to address systemic harms done to people incarcerated at the facility. National media reporting, federal investigations, and Congressional inquiries have revealed that numerous FCI Dublin employees—including the ex-Warden, the prison chaplain, and correctional officers—have subjected dozens of incarcerated people to egregious sexual abuse, including harassment, assault and rape. To date, there have been a handful of prosecutions of individual actors involved in this sexual abuse scheme, but no meaningful efforts have been made to remedy the harms or seriously change the system that facilitated them.
The letter highlights how the BOP has violated federal law by allowing ongoing staff sexual abuse; creating an environment of retaliation that instills fear of reporting abuse; failing to provide adequate medical and mental health care; and maintaining dangerous conditions in the facility that leave incarcerated people in danger. To that end, CCWP, Centro Legal de la Raza, Rights Behind Bars, and Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld have urged BOP leadership to: release survivors of abuse and retaliation and safeguard them from immigration detention and deportation; institute safe and confidential reporting mechanisms; provide adequate, community-based medical and mental health services; and take numerous other steps to dismantle the system at FCI Dublin that has allowed and incentivized staff sexual misconduct and retaliation against those that dare to report. While these remedies may provide some protections for individuals at FCI Dublin, at its core, these systemic problems show that the BOP cannot adequately keep incarcerated individuals safe from abuse and that BOP should prioritize releasing individuals in their custody.
“At the very least people need medical care and reporting mechanisms that they can access without fear of retaliation” said Diana Block, a member of CCWP’s Coordinating Committee, “the assaults and harassment are compounded by enforced silence and a culture of fear,” she continued.
“FCI Dublin, and its officials, have a long history perpetrating of abuse” said Ernest Galvan, partner at RBGG, “this is not the first time people at Dublin have experienced these horrendous conditions, and without systemic changes the pattern will continue.”
“These demands are modest, necessary first steps,” said Amaris Montes, attorney at Rights Behind Bars. “The truth is that every officer and supervisor is complicit in this ongoing abuse and the BOP allowed all this to happen without consequence. Even more drastic changes are needed to protect our communities,” she added.
“Our hope is that BOP finally takes seriously the long-lasting harms that occurred at Dublin and looks more closely at its other facilities,” said Emily Almendarez, advocate at Centro Legal de la Raza “sexual assault cannot be punishment for a crime, and too often it is implicitly treated as punishment in our carceral facilities. How many ‘Dublins’ exist across the country?”
The demand letter, which can be read here, gives BOP officials fourteen days to meet with CCWP and their legal team to negotiate system-wide changes and individual remedies for still incarcerated survivors.
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Diana Block, CCWP | diana[@]womenprisoners.org| 415-484-9360
Oren Nimni, Rights Behind Bars | oren[@]rightsbehindbars.org | 202-540-0029
Isabella Beristain, Centro Legal de la Raza | iberistain[@]centrolegal.org | 916-420-1057
Carl Whitaker, RBGG | carl[@]whitakercom.com | 510-847-0599