Testimonies from inmates at the FCI Dublin women’s prison detail sexual assault

A press conference was held on Friday outside of U.S. District Court in Oakland by the legal teams representing the victims, following three days of testimony from jailed survivors of sexual abuse at Federal Correctional Institution Dublin.

The litigation director of the legal advocacy group Rights Behind Bars, Oren Nimni, stated that “the rot is much deeper than any one bad actor.” “What you’re hearing today, and what you’re going to continue to hear, is that there is a systemic problem at FCI Dublin, and that requires a systemic solution.”

In a federal class action lawsuit filed in August 2023 against the Bureau of Prisons, FCI Dublin officials, and several individual officers, the plaintiffs—abuse survivors and the California Coalition for Women Prisoners—are being represented by Rights Behind Bars, the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice, and the law firm Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP.

To address the current emergency circumstances at FCI Dublin, the solicitors have asked for preliminary injunctive relief. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the U.S. District Court heard testimony from the plaintiffs from Wednesday through Friday this week. She will then decide whether to mandate modifications right away.

According to the complaint, “FCI Dublin’s officers, supervisors, and leadership were and are aware of the ongoing sexual abuse occurring at the facility. They not only fail to stop it, but actively take actions that enable the abuse to go on.” Employees who retaliate against those who report abuse and fail to look into allegations or provide a meaningful response serve to shield their abusive colleagues. “This protection, conspiracy, and obstruction system is what keeps the ‘rape club’ alive.”

While FCI Dublin interim Warden Arthur Dulgov spoke in court about prison reforms that have allowed inmates to report in confidence or access health care, Jane Courant of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners stated during the press conference that the CCWP team is still receiving reports from inmates about ongoing abuse and retaliation.

The complaint states that there are about 220 members of CCWP at several prisons, including FCI Dublin. Courant stated that inmates informed CCWP in March that they were experiencing sudden withdrawals from prescription medications that may save their lives.

Regarding the new interim warden, “(Dulgov) had all kinds of wonderful things to say about all of the regulations and all of the laws and how they were retraining staff,” according to Courant. “He is clueless about what is happening on the ground. According to a large number of today’s witnesses, things are worse. Because of the reprisals they are facing, the situation is worse than it was previously.”

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website, FCI Dublin, a low-security federal prison for female criminals, is currently housing 704 convicts in total. When former Warden Ray Garcia, who also oversaw training on the Prison Rape Elimination Act, was initially accused of sexually abusing a ward in 2021, the widespread sexual abuse and retaliation by staff members at the jail came to the attention of the country. After that, he was given a term of over six years in prison for mistreating three female prisoners.

Since then, several staff members, cops, and even a former chaplain have been identified as criminals for abusing women who sought spiritual guidance. Garcia is one of the eight people accused of sexual misconduct for events that occurred between 2019 and 2021. The complaint claims that since the plaintiffs have implicated additional people for abuse that occurred as recently as last year, more charges are probably forthcoming.

Reports from those who have come forward indicate that FCI Dublin has a lengthy history of mistreatment. After hearing the testimonials, former prisoner Robin Lucas spoke at the press conference.

“I was sent to Dublin thirty years ago, when I suffered maltreatment together with other women. Lucas remarked, “I believe I was the first to speak up. Thirty years ago, I had assumed that this would never happen again. In court, I heard exactly the same things that I had heard thirty years earlier. I assumed this would not happen thirty years later, so I walked into the court lavatory and sobbed like a newborn.”

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