Updated: Feb 7, 2022
Inmates in a federal prison for women in Dublin, Ca., say they have been subjected to rampant sexual abuse by correctional officers and even the warden, and were threatened or punished when they tried to speak up. Prisoners and workers call it “The rape club," the Associated Press reports. AP described years of sexual misconduct by employees and cover-ups that have largely kept the abuse out of the public eye. The story was based on Bureau of Prisons documents, statements and recordings from inmates, interviews with current and former prison employees and inmates and thousands of pages of court records from criminal and civil cases.
Inmates’ allegations against members of the mostly male staff were ignored or set aside, prisoners could be sent to solitary confinement for reporting abuse and officials in charge of preventing and investigating sexual misconduct were themselves accused of abusing inmates or neglecting their concerns. One female inmate said her work supervisor taunted her by remarking “let the games begin” when he assigned her to work with a maintenance foreman she accused of rape. Another worker said he wanted to get inmates pregnant. The Dublin warden kept nude photos on his government cellphone of a woman he is accused of assaulting. The allegations at Dublin have so far resulted in four arrests. In 2020, the same year women at Dublin complained, there were 422 complaints of staff-on-inmate sexual abuse across the system of 122 prisons and 153,000 inmates. The agency substantiated only four of those complaints and that 290 are still being investigated.