California’s ‘Rape Club’ Federal Prison to Close

California’s ‘Rape Club’ Federal Prison to Close

The Federal Correctional Institution stands in Dublin, Calif., on Dec. 5, 2022. (Jeff Chiu/AP Photo)

Beige Luciano-Adams

Beige Luciano-Adams

4/15/2024

Updated: 4/16/2024

Just weeks after a seventh prison employee was sentenced in a wide-ranging sex abuse scandal that has plagued a federal women’s correctional facility in the City of Dublin, about 35 miles southeast of San Francisco, officials announced April 15 they would close the prison.
“The Federal Bureau of Prisons ...  has taken unprecedented steps and provided a tremendous amount of resources to address culture, recruitment and retention, aging infrastructure—and most critical—employee misconduct [at the facility],” Bureau of Prisons Director Collette S. Peters said in a statement.
But such measures, Ms. Peters said, have not been effective, and the prison—the Federal Correctional Institution, Dublin—was not meeting “expected standards.”
Somewhat cryptically, the director indicated the facility’s uncertain future.
“The closure of the institution may be temporary but certainly will result in a mission change,” Ms. Peters said in the statement, offering no further details about whether or when it might reopen.
Politicians and activists lauded the move as a victory in the fight against systemic abuse of incarcerated women.
“Every American deserves basic human rights and dignity within the criminal justice system,” Rep. Judy Chu wrote on social media platform X, suggesting the closure was a “significant step forward in ensuring the Bureau of Prisons provides a safe environment for incarcerated people and staff.”
The abrupt announcement came just as independent oversight was about to begin.
Last month, a U.S. District judge issued a scathing order, calling the prison a “dysfunctional mess,” and appointed a special master to implement reforms.
The years-long scandal at Dublin, which included high-profile lawsuits, investigations, and several turnovers of management, was a public relations nightmare for the Washington D.C.-based Bureau of Prisons—and points to a broader problem of chronic sexual abuse of female inmates in the federal system.
In 2022, an investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security reviewed “non-public” whistleblower documents regarding the prison bureau, as well as interviews with more than two dozen senior leaders within the agency, whistleblowers, and survivors, and came to “deeply disturbing” conclusions.
Employees had sexually abused female prisoners in at least two-thirds of federal prisons nationwide over the previous decade, and officials had failed to detect, deter, and stop recurring abuse at several institutions, according to the investigation.
But even in that context, the low-security Dublin prison—which houses 505 inmates at its main facility and 101 at an adjacent minimum security camp including those convicted of drug and other nonviolent crimes—stood out.
In 2022, former Dublin Warden Ray J. Garcia, who federal investigators said “oversaw a toxic culture [at the facility],” was convicted by a jury of sexually abusive conduct against three female victims and sentenced to 70 months in prison. A former chaplain, James Highhouse, pleaded guilty to sexual assault and lying to authorities and was sentenced to 84 months in prison.
Last year, Dublin abuse survivors filed a class action lawsuit against guards and officials, alleging abuse continued even after earlier charges were filed.
The lawsuit claimed the nature of the exploitation was systemic, implicating the entire Bureau of Prisons (BOP) system in which “officers at every level literally watched as other officers assaulted incarcerated people and helped to keep survivors silent through retaliation,” a lawyer representing the eight clients in the suit told local media.
Bureau of Prisons officials said the “deactivation” of the Dublin facility is currently ongoing, but did not give a completion date. No employees will lose their jobs as a result of the closure, and inmates currently housed at the prison will be transferred to other facilities.
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Beige Luciano-Adams

Beige Luciano-Adams

Author

Beige Luciano-Adams is an investigative reporter covering Los Angeles and statewide issues in California. She has covered politics, arts, culture, and social issues for a variety of outlets, including LA Weekly and MediaNews Group publications. Reach her at beige.luciano@epochtimesca.com and follow her on X: https://twitter.com/LucianoBeige

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