DUBLIN, CALIFORNIA (January 6, 2022) – Female inmates at the all women’s Federal Correction Institution in Dublin were subjected to rampant sexual abuse by correctional officers, according to an investigation by the Associated Press (AP).
The report by the AP uncovered a permissive and toxic culture at the prison which enabled sexual misconduct and cover-ups. This investigation has come to light after the AP was able to obtain thousands of pages of court records from criminal and civil cases aimed at Dublin prison staff.
Female inmates detailed how the mostly male staff would retaliate against them if they spoke up and reported abuse. It wasn’t uncommon for women to be sent to solitary confinement for reporting abuse.
One worker allegedly claimed that he wanted to get inmates pregnant. The abuse was so pervasive that inmates developed their own name for the prison: “The rape club.”
Allegations against the Federal Correction Institution in Dublin have resulted in four arrests and numerous civil claims. Lawyers for the defendants in those cases declined interview requests with the AP.
Liability For Inmate Abuse At The Federal Correction Institution In Dublin
Sexual abuse by prison staff is far more common than many people may realize. According to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, around 80,000 women and men are sexually abused in prison every year. Inmates at private prisons were twice as likely to report sexual victimization. Women tend to have it especially hard because most correctional officers are men. Per one study by Western Washington University, “In many women’s prisons, male corrections officers are allowed to watch the women when they are dressing, showering, or using the toilet, and some guards regularly harass women prisoners.” There are a number of steps that correctional facilities can take in order to reduce the likelihood of inmate sexual abuse.
- Correctional officers should receive adequate training.
- There should be a healthy mix of male and female correctional officers in women’s prisons.
- Correctional officers should be properly supervised for the protection of inmates.
- Reports of abuse should be properly reported and thoroughly investigated.
Depending on the facts of any case, a correctional facility could be liable if an inmate is sexually abused or harassed. It is illegal for any correctional officer to engage in any sexual activity with any inmate. Pursuant to California Penal Code 289.6 (a), “An employee or officer of a public entity health facility, or an employee, officer, or agent of a private person or entity that provides a health facility or staff for a health facility under contract with a public entity, who engages in sexual activity with a consenting adult who is confined in a health facility is guilty of a public offense.” It makes no difference whether an inmate implicitly or explicitly gave their consent. The power difference between the inmate and the correctional officer is too great and thus no sexual relationship could ever be totally consensual.
Sadly, though, many sexual encounters between inmates and correctional officers are forced through coercion or violence. If a correctional officer sexually abuses an inmate, the prison or even the warden could potentially face civil liability. Generally speaking, employers are vicariously liable for the negligent actions of their employees – insofar as those employees were working within the course and scope of their job duties. Prisons and jails have a legal obligation to adequately supervise their correctional officers. When a prison or jail fails to do this, they could be liable if an inmate is abused. There are a number of steps that should be taken if an inmate is abused by a correctional officer.
- An experienced inmate abuse attorney should be consulted.
- Jail records should be examined.
- A formal report should be made.
- Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
- A thorough, independent investigation should be conducted.
Victims of sexual assault are protected by a number of laws. California recently passed Assembly Bill No. 1455. The bill went into effect in 2022 and substantially broadens the statute of limitations for when abuse victims can pursue a claim against correctional officers. Specifically, a claim can be made within ten years of judgement against a correctional officer in a criminal case for the crime of sexual assault. A claim can also be pursued 10 years after the correctional officer is no longer employed by the law enforcement agency they worked for when the alleged sexual assault occurred. These changes to the statute of limitations apply retroactively. If you were unable to pursue a claim before, you may be able to now. There are two additional changes to the statute of limitations worth mentioning.
- A claim can be pursued 10 years from the date of the last act, attempted act, or assault with intent to commit sexual assault against the plaintiff.
- A claim can be pursued three years from the date that a plaintiff discovers (or reasonably should have discovered) an injury or illness resulting from sexual assault against the plaintiff. Many of the injuries associated with sexual assault are psychological and may not be obvious or easily discoverable for substantial periods of time.
Any person that is sexually abused or exploited by correctional officers has the right to pursue a claim for damages. Damages can help cover medical bills along with emotional trauma. Victims of sexual assault tend to suffer long-term psychological injuries such as PTSD, anxiety and depression. Survivors are also more prone to experience suicidal ideations. An inmate abuse attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are. It doesn’t cost anything to hire an attorney and they can start taking steps to protect your rights.
Getting Help After Inmate Abuse At The Federal Correction Institution In Dublin
We at Carrillo Law Firm, LLP extend our thoughts and prayers to all of the abuse victims at the Federal Correction Institution in Dublin. There needs to be some accountability for the sake of all the victims. What took place is totally unacceptable and there needs to be a thorough investigation into how this continued for so long. Any person with information about what happened should contact investigators. It is our sincere hope that steps are taken to prevent other women from becoming victims.
Have you or someone that you care about been abused by correctional officers at the Federal Correction Institution in Dublin? There are a number of laws designed to protect your rights. The abusers at this prison can be held accountable through a civil or even a criminal claim. Our team of compassionate and experienced inmate advocates are here to answer any legal questions that you may have. Whether you just have legal questions or need a free, independent investigation into a particular incident we are here for you. You’re always welcome to reach out to us anytime at 626-799-9375.