Women at California prison dubbed the 'rape club' now worry where they'll be transferred

Keri Blakinger and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Women

Meanwhile at Dublin, panic set in.

Several incarcerated women — who asked to remain anonymous citing fear of retaliation — described a chaotic scene. They didn’t know where they would be going or when, and they watched as staff went from cell to cell and notified who was getting moved. One woman said the guards told people the transfers were only happening so officials could “take care of the asbestos.”

Aside from the uncertainty, the women worried about losing their belongings: Fleming said the guards told everyone they could only take one bag of property. She watched women around her try to eat any food they had saved up, and start throwing out any possessions they thought wouldn’t fit.

“You look around and pick and choose,” one woman said, as she recounted watching people try to figure out whether to use their limited packing space for photos of their children or for soap and shampoo. “I cried the entire time,” she added.

Despite the chaos, Fleming said most of the women around her seemed happy to leave the crowded 600-person lockup. Several current and former prisoners said that at times the facility has been so tightly packed that women were housed four to a cell in quarters so cramped some had to turn sideways to fit between the bunks.

“There was asbestos and mold, and paint was chipping off our beds and ceilings,” Maria Ledesma, a former Dublin inmate, told the Los Angeles Times this week. She said she was “surprised” the closure announcement didn’t come sooner.


Fleming concurred.

“Personally, I am very happy the prison is closing,” she wrote. “It is environmentally unsafe.”

Even so, some women were not pleased about the news of transfers. For many of those at Dublin, which is roughly 20 miles east of Oakland, a transfer to any of the other federal women’s prisons would mean being hundreds of miles farther from home.

“I lost my entire family in the pandemic,” one woman with family in California told the Times. “I don’t want to be going farther from the family that I have left.”


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