U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers today granted a preliminary injunction and certified the class in civil rights action filed in August 2023 by survivors of sexual abuse at the federal prison in Dublin, California.  The Court’s order begins: 

The Federal Correctional Institute (“FCI”) Dublin is a dysfunctional mess. The situation can no longer be tolerated. The facility is in dire need of immediate change. Given the record presented and the Court’s personal observations, further magnified by recent events, the Court finds the Bureau of Prison (“BOP”) has proceeded sluggishly with intentional disregard of the inmates’ constitutional rights despite being fully apprised of the situation for years. The repeated installation of BOP leadership who fail to grasp and address the situation strains credulity. The Court is compelled to intercede.

In the rest of the 45-page order, the Court finds that incarcerated people at FCI Dublin still face a substantial risk of sexual assault.  The Court points to evidence that victims who report abuse face retaliation in many forms, including transfers to restrictive housing units, the so-called “Special Housing Units” or SHUs.  Retaliatory use of the SHU has been a long-standing practice, including under the former warden now serving a prison sentence for abusing prisoners.  The Court wrote: 

As the most powerful person at FCI Dublin, [former warden] Garcia held the power to liberate—by granting compassionate release motions—and further punish—by placing incarcerated women in the SHU. He used both tactics to coerce incarcerated women at the facility into sexually abusive relationships and ensure their silence. Many of the women he abused testified that they were terrified he would place them in the SHU, where they would be confined to “little cells, like dungeons,” in retaliation.

The Court also finds that the plaintiffs demonstrated a likelihood of success on their claims of inadequate medical and mental health care.  The Court ruled that the plaintiffs faced an imminent risk of harm without immediate relief.  The Court granted the plaintiffs’ request that a Special Master be appointed to assist the Court to ensure compliance with further orders to protect the incarcerated people at Dublin.  

The parties now have until March 25, 2024 to nominate Special Master candidates to oversee the preliminary relief at FCI Dublin.  

The certified class of approximately 700 people incarcerated at FCI Dublin are represented by Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP (RBGG), Rights Behind Bars (RBB), the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice (CCIJ), and attorneys from the law firm Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP. 


ECF No. 222 Order Granting Class Cert and Partial PI (002)


‘A Dysfunctional Mess’: Judge Orders Third-Party Oversight for East Bay Women’s Prison Plagued by Sexual Abuse, KQED, March 15, 2024

At This Women’s Prison in Dublin, Sexual Abuse Is Pervasive, KTVU podcast, March 16, 2024

FCI Dublin judge orders unprecedented special master over troubled prison, KTVU, March 15, 2024

Judge will appoint special master to oversee California federal women’s prison after rampant abuse, Associated Press, March 15, 2024

‘FCI Dublin is a dysfunctional mess’: Judge orders unprecedented oversight for scandal-plagued prison, The Mercury News, March 15, 2024