Lawsuit filed against officials over sexual abuse, violence at Dublin prison

A class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of inmates at a low-security women’s prison in Dublin that alleges sexual assault and abuse at the hands of prison staff.

The lawsuit brings allegations against the Federal Bureau of Prisons, officials at the prison — the Federal Correctional Institution Dublin — and multiple individual officers.

A criminal investigation by the Department of Justice in 2020 led to charges against eight former FCI Dublin officials, seven of which have now been convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, sexually abusing at least 20 incarcerated women, the complaint said.

The lawsuit, filed on Aug. 16, says women in the prison have endured “rape and sexual assault; manipulation and sexual coercion, including officers entering into relationships with incarcerated individuals and officers forcing incarcerated individuals to undress in order to be released from cells or in exchange for goods; degrading sexual comments; voyeurism and sharing explicit photos; drugging, groping and other forms of abuse during medical exams; and targeted abuse towards immigrants under threat of deportation.”

The plaintiffs, who include eight women currently incarcerated at FCI Dublin and an organization of current and formerly incarcerated women, the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, are seeking to remedy “systemic issues” that allow patterns of sexual abuse to persist, according to the complaint.

The women are represented by the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice, the nonprofit legal advocacy organization Rights Behind Bars and San Francisco law firm Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP.

“We cannot prosecute our way to a solution to the crisis at FCI Dublin,” said Amaris Montes, an attorney at Rights Behind Bars, in the press release. “This isn’t the case of a few bad apples, we need systemic change that ensures survivors are released and receive care that promotes safety for all those remaining inside.”

The plaintiffs said they plan to seek an injunction asking the court to order the Bureau of Prisons to end retaliation against people who report staff misconduct as well as immediately remove staff who have “substantial claims” of abuse.

The injunction would also seek to establish more robust “community-based” medical and mental health care for incarcerated individuals at FCI Dublin, to ensure access to counsel which includes confidential legal calls and visits, and to support survivors’ requests for release and visas for noncitizen victims of crime.

The injunction would additionally ask for an audit, regular inspections, reports and ongoing monitoring of the prison by a third-party organization.