Eight inmates at a San Francisco Bay Area federal lockup — dubbed the “rape club” by prisoners and workers alike — filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP), saying sexual abuse and exploitation has not stopped despite the prosecution of the former warden and several former officers, the Associated Press reports. The lawsuit filed in Oakland by the inmates and the advocacy group California Coalition for Women Prisoners also names the current warden and 12 former and current guards. It alleges the Bureau of Prisons and staff at the Dublin facility didn’t do enough to prevent sexual abuse going back to the 1990s. An Associated Press investigation last year found a culture of abuse and cover-ups that had persisted for years at the prison, about 21 miles east of Oakland. That reporting led to increased scrutiny from Congress and pledges from BOP to fix problems and change the culture at the prison.
The Bureau of Prisons has failed to address rampant misconduct in its ranks and protect the safety of those in its care, said Amaris Montes, an attorney at Rights Behind Bars representing the plaintiffs. “Individual prisoners have had to endure rape, groping, voyeurism, forced stripping, sexually explicit comments on an everyday basis and so much more,” she said. The lawsuit seeks a third party to oversee the prison to ensure inmates have access to a confidential place to report abuse. It also asks that all victims be given access to medical and mental health care and legal counsel. The plaintiffs, who asked the court to certify the case as a class action, also want compassionate release for victims and for those who are living in the U.S. illegally to be issued a “U visa,” a special visa for victims of crime. In March, a judge sentenced ex-warden Ray Garcia to a 70- month term for sexually abusing three female inmates and forcing them to pose naked for photos in their cells. Garcia was among eight prison workers, including a chaplain, charged with abusing inmates.