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Bureau of Prisons will close the Bay Area women’s prison at the center of a sex abuse scandal

The federal Bureau of Prisons announced Monday that it plans to close a troubled women’s prison in California known as the “rape club,” despite efforts to reform the troubled prison, according to the Associated Press.

An in-depth AP investigative report exposed rampant sexual abuse of staff and inmates at the facility.

Bureau of Prisons Director Colette Peters said in a statement to the AP that the agency has “taken unprecedented steps and committed a tremendous amount of resources to address the culture, recruitment and retention, aging infrastructure – and most critically – misconduct of to tackle employees.”

“Despite these steps and resources, we have determined that FCI Dublin is not meeting expected standards and that the best course of action is to close the facility,” Peters said. “This decision is made after continued evaluation of the effectiveness of these unprecedented steps and additional resources.”

FCI Dublin, about 21 miles east of Oakland, is one of six women-only federal prisons, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. There are currently 605 prisoners: 504 prisoners in the main prison and another 101 in an adjacent minimum security camp. That’s down from the total of 760 inmates as of February 2022. The women currently at the prison will be moved to other facilities and no employees will lose their jobs, Peters said.

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Advocates have called for the release of prisoners from FCI Dublin, which they say is not only plagued by sexual abuse but also suffers from dangerous mold, asbestos and inadequate health care.

Last month, federal investigators searched the facility after a guard sent to help rehabilitate the facility was accused of retaliating against a whistleblower prisoner. FBI agents seized computers and documents in an apparent escalation of a years-long investigation into sexual abuse.

Days later, a federal judge overseeing the lawsuits against the prison said she would do so appoint a special captain to oversee the facility’s operations.

A 2021 AP investigation found that a culture of abuse and cover-up had existed at the prison for years. That reporting led to increased congressional oversight and commitments from the Bureau of Prisons that it would fix the problems and change the prison culture.

Since 2021, at least eight FCI Dublin employees have been accused of sexually abusing prisoners. Five have pleaded guilty. Two were convicted at trial, including former director Ray Garcia. There is another case pending.

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Last August, eight Dublin FCI prisoners sued the Bureau of Prisons for failing to stamp out sexual abuse. Amaris Montes, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said prisoners continue to face retaliation for reporting abuse, including being placed in solitary confinement and having assets confiscated.

Any sexual activity between a prison employee and an inmate is illegal. Correctional officers have substantial power over inmates, controlling every aspect of their lives, from mealtimes to turning off the lights, and there is no scenario in which an inmate can give consent.

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