The Federal Correctional Institution – Dublin, a women’s prison in Northern California, earned the nickname the “Rape Club” due to rampant reports of sexual abuse and cover-ups by prison officials, according to an Associated Press investigation.
Throughout the prison’s existence, it has been plagued by sexual abuse allegations. Recently, two of the prison’s five employees currently facing sexual abuse charges pleaded guilty to sexually abusing women prisoners. The investigation is on-going and continues to uncover incidents of staff sexual misconduct, said the report. On March 20, a food service foreman was charged with touching an incarcerated woman’s genitals, breasts, and buttocks in October 2020.
There have been nine other workers placed on administrative leave by the Bureau of Prisons since March, said the report.
“It’s absolutely horrible,” Thahesha Jusino, the prison’s new warden, told The AP. “I’ve never experienced anything like this. In my career, I’ve never been part of a situation like this. This is really unprecedented.
“We’ve really lost a lot of credibility through all of this, which is understandable, because it’s appalling what has happened.”
FCI Dublin has a history of sexual abuse and staff employment discrimination complaints:
In the late 1990s, four officers were charged with engaging in sexual conduct with women prisoners.
In 1996, three female prisoners alleged they were “sold like sex slaves” by correctional officers, who housed them in a housing unit for men and allowed male prisoners to rape them. No one was arrested. The women sued the Bureau of Prisons and the agency agreed to settle the lawsuit for $500,000, noted the report.
In the early 2010s, a staff worker was found with videotapes in his locker with him having sex with women prisoners. He was allowed to retire after the discovery. Around the same time a dozen other Dublin employees were quietly removed for sexually abusing prisoners. No one was arrested, according to the report.
“There is literally a culture there that is toxic and one that needs to be addressed,” U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier told The AP.
Since the recent crisis and arrest of sex abuses, former warden Ray J. Garcia was also arrested and accused of victim intimidation and repeatedly molesting a female prisoner between December 2019 and March 2020, forcing her and another prisoner to strip naked while he took pictures of them with his government-issued cell phone, said the report. He pled not-guilty to all charges.
With the prison coming under intense scrutiny, former BOP director Michael Carvajal and a task force of senior agency officials toured the facility. Carvajal was responsible for Garcia’s promotion to warden, despite a pre-existing “reputation in prison circles as a misogynist,” and was confronted by prison staff.
“You created this monster,” one worker told Carvajal during the tour.
One woman asked, “Why did you create this toxic environment? Why did you pick Garcia as the warden?”
FCI Dublin currently houses around 785 incarcerated women, most of whom are serving sentences for drug crimes.
The Justice Department promised to “[hold] BOP personnel accountable, including through criminal charges,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco: “Staff misconduct, at any level, will not be tolerated, and our efforts to root it out are far from over.”