Federal Correctional Institution, Dublin

Judge To Appoint Special Master Due To Alleged Abuse At California Women’s Prison

The FBI raided the federal prison in California during the week of March 12.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled on March 15 that she would appoint a special master to oversee the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California. As the Associated Press reported, the ruling marks the first time that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has required direct oversight. 

According to Judge Rogers’ ruling, “The situation can no longer be tolerated. The facility is in dire need of immediate change.”

Rogers 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.”

The ruling comes following an investigation into the Dublin facility from the AP, which discovered numerous instances of sexual abuse of incarcerated women coming from as high up as the warden of the facility. 

According to the AP’s investigation, four were arrested, which they said indicated a larger problem at the Bureau of Prisons. At the time, Thahesha Jusino, who took over the position of warden in February 2022, promised she would “work tirelessly to reaffirm the Bureau of Prisons’ zero tolerance for sexual abuse and sexual harassment.”

Despite Jusino’s assertion, eight incarcerated people filed a lawsuit in August 2023, assisted by the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, an advocacy group. The lawsuit alleges that the sexual abuse of women at the facility did not stop even though several officers and the former warden at the facility had been prosecuted. Jusino was replaced as warden.

Emily Shapiro, a member of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, released a statement on March 15, declaring that people who want change can push for it, even if they happen to be incarcerated people. 

“This unprecedented decision on the need for oversight shows that courageous incarcerated people, community and dedicated lawyers can collectively challenge the impunity of the federal government and Bureau of Prisons.”

The federal prison was raided by the FBI during the week of March 12, and in a press release, Rep. Judy Chu (CA-28) said that the human rights of the incarcerated need to be protected. As a result of the raid, the new warden, Art Dulgov, who had taken over for Jusino, was removed.

“I am gratified the FBI and BOP have taken significant and appropriate actions to hold officials accountable at the federal correctional facility in Dublin. A recent FBI investigation of the facility shed light on a toxic culture enabling years of sexual misconduct by employees, with 5 pleading guilty to associated charges and 2 convicted by juries of everyday Californians. Every American, in every interaction they have with the criminal justice system, must be guaranteed access to basic human rights and dignity, including freedom from abuse.”

As ABC 7 reported, the FBI also seized computers and documents at the facility during the raid. Both Shapiro and former U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier want the Department of Justice to get involved with the FBI’s investigation. Per an email from the FBOP, a new warden has already been installed.

“Consistent with unprecedented and ongoing actions by FBOP leadership to create a positive change in the culture at FCI Dublin, recent developments have necessitated new executive employees be installed at the institution,” a spokesperson told the outlet via email. “We can confirm N.T. McKinney has been assigned as the interim Warden at FCI Dublin effective immediately.”

According to Steven Clark, a legal analyst, the seizure represents an escalation by the FBI, and signals a desire to get to the bottom of the alleged corruption at the facility. Clark told ABC 7, “The feds are casting a very wide net here to look into this prison and all of the corruption that occurred there, and I think that’s why they want to look at all the records and computers of the individuals at the prison because they don’t want to just rely on information from the inmates.”

Rogers toured the facility personally on Valentine’s Day, and on her tour, she found that the description of the facility in the lawsuit did not match previous descriptions.

“The truth is somewhere in the middle—allegations of sexual misconduct have lingered but to characterize it as pervasive goes too far,” Rogers wrote. “However, and as the Court finds herein, because of its inability to promptly investigate the allegations that remain, and the ongoing retaliation against incarcerated persons who report misconduct, BOP has lost the ability to manage with integrity and trust.”

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