California prison sued for allowing sexual abuse of inmates

A group of women who spent time incarcerated at the Dublin Federal Prison in California have filed a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse of the inmates.

A group of women who spent time incarcerated at the Dublin federal prison in California have filed a lawsuit against the women’s prison’s management and the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), alleging that federal prison officials failed to detect or completely ignored warning signs of ongoing sexual abuse that has occurred there for decades.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges that sexual assault against female detainees has long been rampant at Dublin Federal Prison, but that those responsible for making it happen were able to avoid the serious consequences of these acts until now.

The California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) joined the group of victims in the lawsuit to denounce the “systematic” abuse at the women’s prison, located in Northern California.

The plaintiffs claim in the complaint that they have endured “horrific” abuse and exploitation at the hands of prison employees, including rape and sexual assault; degrading sexual comments; groping and other forms of abuse during medical exams; and threats of deportation for immigrant detainees.

“People call FCI Dublin a ‘rape club,'” Amaris Montes, an attorney representing the group that filed the lawsuit, said during a press conference outside a federal courthouse in Oakland on Wednesday. “This litigation shows that FCI Dublin officials are running a trafficking system within those walls. Individual inmates have had to endure rape, groping, voyeurism, forced nudity, sexually explicit comments every day and much more.”

“Things need to change in this prison, and the BOP has shown that they are not going to make changes on their own,” A.V., a CCWP member currently serving her sentence in the Dublin jail, said in a statement. “Sexual abuse, harassment and retaliation were not part of our sentences,” she added.

For her part, G.M., one of the plaintiffs, said the complaint aims to bring about change at the prison and hold officials accountable. “We are someone’s mom, we are someone’s daughter. We are here (in jail) to be rehabilitated, but when we are abused we cannot be.”

Amaris Montes, an attorney with Rights Behind Bars, which is supporting the lawsuit explained that systemic change is needed to ensure that survivors are released and receive care and to promote safety for all inmates.

The lawsuit follows a series of legal complaints filed against federal prison employees in Dublin for sexual abuse.

At least eight staff members have been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice amid an investigation, which has already resulted in a conviction against a jail official who was found guilty of abusing three female detainees.

Last month, two other guards working at the federal prison pleaded guilty to sexually abusing several incarcerated women.

Susan Beaty, an attorney with the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice (CCIJ), stressed that violence is repeated “over and over again” in prisons and that something must be done to correct these behaviors. “Enough is enough,” he opined.

This is not the first investigation against the federal prison in Dublin, in 1995 three female inmates were sexually assaulted after guards let male inmates into their cells.

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