The lawsuit alleges that the Federal Bureau of Prisons was “long aware” of sexual abuse allegations at FCI Dublin, a large women’s prison in California.
A group of current and former inmates at FCI Dublin have filed a class action lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons, claiming that the agency has failed to enact sufficient safeguards against sexual abuse.
According to CBS News, attorneys for the eight plaintiffs filed the claim in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
“The Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) has been aware of these problems for decades and has failed, and continues to fail, to take action to protect those in its care by preventing and addressing rampant staff sexual misconduct,” the class action claims. “In recent years, staff sexual abuse at FCI Dublin has been so severe that the facility became the center of a sprawling criminal investigation, multiple Congressional inquiries, and national media attention.”
The Associated Press reports that, in the past, both inmates and workers at the all-women’s facility had termed the prison “The Rape Club.”
In its report, The Associated Press said that FCI Dublin tolerated a “permissive and toxic” culture of abuse, where inmates were regularly subjected to sexual assault and harassment.
Robin Lucas, among the eight plaintiffs, said that the lawsuit intends to change history and ensure that other women inmates are not victimized.
“We’re going to change history today,” Lucas said on Wednesday. “I’m so glad to have everyone here to understand our struggle, to embrace our hearts, our trauma, and we’re going to kick in the door. These women will break the glass ceiling.”
CBS News reports that, to date, only eight employees at the prison have faced criminal charges for the abuse.
These employees include former FBI Dublin warden Ray Garcia, who was convicted last year of molesting inmates and forcing them to “pose” naked in their cells.
Attorneys for the inmates say that the Federal Bureau of Prisons was “long aware” of the problems at the facility.
In 1995, for instance, three women who claimed that they had been sexually assaulted at FCI Dublin filed a civil rights lawsuit, obtaining a significant settlement several years later.
Amaris Montes, an attorney with Rights Behind Bars, said that this class action intends to effect longer-lasting change.
“We cannot prosecute our way to a solution to the crisis at FCI Dublin,” said Montes, whose organization among several representing the plaintiffs. “This isn’t a case of a few bad apples, we need systemic change that ensures survivors are released and receive care and that promotes safety for all those remaining inside.”
The class action asks for several different remedies, including better reporting practices, the immediate removal of staff who have substantiated claims of abuse pending against them, easy access to attorneys for inmates, and regular audits of the prison’s conditions.