Special master appointed to oversee women’s prison after sexual abuse

Several prison employees have been charged with sexual abuse in the last few years.

A US district judge has ordered the appointment of a special master to oversee the Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) in Dublin, California, following rampant sexual abuse against inmates at the facility.

The judge referred to the prison as a “dysfunctional mess” and criticized the Federal Bureau of Prisons for proceeding slowly with disregard for inmates’ constitutional rights.


Driving the news: The appointment of a special master marks the first time the Federal Bureau of Prisons has faced such action.

  • A 2021 Associated Press investigation revealed a culture of abuse and cover-ups at FCI Dublin, leading to increased scrutiny and calls for reform.
  • Eight incarcerated individuals and the California Coalition of Women Prisoners filed a federal lawsuit last year alleging ongoing sexual abuse and exploitation despite the prosecution of the former warden and several officers.
  • Since 2021, at least eight FCI Dublin employees have been charged with sexually abusing inmates, and around 50 several civil rights lawsuits against prison staff are ongoing.

The big picture: Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers conducted an unannounced visit to FCI Dublin, where many incarcerated individuals denied the prevalence of sexual misconduct, but incidents of misconduct were reported as recently as November 2023.

  • The appointment comes shortly after an FBI search at the prison and the removal of the current warden due to allegations of staff retaliation against an inmate who testified against the prison.
  • The prison has seen multiple changes in leadership since 2021, and there are ongoing concerns about the ability to manage with integrity and trust.

What they’re saying: “The situation can no longer be tolerated. The facility is in dire need of immediate change,” Rogers wrote. 

  • She added that the Bureau of Prisons has “proceeded sluggishly with intentional disregard of the inmates’ constitutional rights despite being fully apprised of the situation for years. The repeated installation of BOP leadership who fail to grasp and address the situation strains credulity.”
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