Washington, DC – Today, Representatives Jackie Speier (CA-14), co-chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus and member of the House Oversight Committee; Eric Swalwell (CA-15), member of the House Judiciary Committee; Karen Bass (CA-37), member of the House Judiciary Committee; Lois Frankel (FL-21), co-chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus; Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), co-chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus; Veronica Escobar (TX-16), vice chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus; Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), vice chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus; and Shelia Jackson Lee (TX-18), member of the House Judiciary Committee; sent letters to Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz and Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal to address the disturbing and extensive sexual abuse and misconduct complaints made by Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Dublin inmates and staff. The letters call for an inspection of the facility and request access to a 2021 audit of the facility as required by the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).
“We were first made aware of the systemic issues plaguing FCI Dublin through the detailed articles and investigations completed by several reputable news sources earlier this month, including that of the Associated Press,” the Members wrote. “These writings detailed how the all-women inmate population at FCI Dublin has allegedly been subjected to rampant sexual harassment and abuse at the hands of predatory male employees like former Warden Ray Garcia, former Chaplain James Theodore Highhouse, Prison Safety Administrator John Bellhouse, and recycling technician Ross Klinger.”
“These media reports uncovered inmates at the facility had made the first internal complaints to staff members about five years ago, but they were largely ignored,” the Members wrote. “This is unacceptable considering PREA Standard 51(b) requires agencies to “provide at least one way for inmates to report abuse or harassment to a public or private entity or office that is not part of the agency, and that is able to receive and immediately forward inmate reports of sexual abuse and sexual harassment to agency officials, allowing the inmate to remain anonymous upon request."
The letter to DOJ Inspector General Horowitz requests the DOJ to investigate FCI Dublin’s:
- Compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”) of 2003;
- Flawed reporting and investigation procedures regarding complaints of sexual violence and retaliation;
- Retaliation against staff and inmates for filing complaints or assisting in the investigation of complaints;
- Inadequate camera surveillance and the impact on inmate and staff safety;
- Low staffing levels and the impact on inmate and staff health, safety, and morale.
The letter to Director Carvajal requests access to the annual audit completed by FCI Dublin that must:
- Aggregate the data collected from PREA-qualifying incidents;
- Provide an explanation of what measures were taken in investigating and responding to the data collected;
- Indicate what additional measures, if any, are needed and/or being taken to address the safety of offenders from incidents of sexual violence while in custody;
- Present the data from this year in contrast to data from previous years; and
- Be published publicly, on the federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) facility’s website, for review and comment by interested parties.
PREA was the first federal legislation that requires correctional facilities in the U.S. to take measures to prevent, respond and report on sexual misconduct in America’s prisons and jails. The legislation was signed into law in 2003, and in 2013 the U.S. Attorney General released clarified compliance standards of PREA.
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