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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

Experts shared their concerns. Michele Deitch, director of the Prison and Jail Innovation Lab at the University of Texas at Austin, said that even though the facility was “unfixable,” separating women from their families can be problematic.

“The closure will cause challenges given that these women will end up in facilities that might be very, very far from their homes,” she said. “It’s going to create strains on family relationships and make it harder for these women to reenter their communities.”

Since the 1970s, studies have shown that prison visits can reduce recidivism, according to a Prison Policy Initiative round-up of research published in 2021.

After the official announcement on Monday, the jurist overseeing the class-action case — U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers — quickly scheduled a midmorning status conference.

According to Amaris Montes, director of West Coast Litigation and Advocacy for Rights Behind Bars, Gonzalez Rogers told attorneys at the conference that she would issue an order pausing the transfers of inmates.

“The Court is aware that the Bureau of Prisons has announced its intended closure of FCI Dublin,” the order began, going on to say that given the agency’s “significant inadequacies,” officials would be required to figure out whether prisoners were eligible for home confinement, a halfway house or compassionate release before they could be moved to another prison.

Around 4 p.m., Fleming said, officials showed up at the unit with a copy of Gonzalez Rogers’ order.

 

“The prison is still closing, but the prison officials had to turn the buses around, and return about 75 inmates back to the prison,” Fleming wrote. Those who came back, she said, had none of their belongings and no clean clothes.

“The BOP employees LIED,” Fleming added, “telling us the inmates were coming back because they were not medically cleared, when in fact, the prison is under a court order requiring every transfer to be put before the special master.”

On Tuesday, federal prison officials declined to answer questions about how many inmates were transferred, or how many were turned back.

Amid Monday’s chaos, inmate advocates and criminal justice experts said that regardless of what happens with the facility closure, the long-standing problems at the facility are evidence of the need for outside oversight of the federal system.

“Closing the facility at Dublin does not do anything to change the underlying culture that contributed to rampant sexual abuse in prison,” said Shanna Rifkin, deputy general counsel of the prisoner advocacy organization FAMM. “Independent federal oversight can help address the underlying issues.”

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©2024 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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