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June 24, 2024

DeSaulnier, Pressley, Butler, Durbin, Colleagues Demand Answers from Bureau of Prisons About Abuse of Women in Custody at FCI Dublin

Text of Letter (PDF)

WASHINGTON –Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-10), Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Laphonza Butler (D-CA) sent a letter to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) requesting information about the botched closure of FCI Dublin, abuse of women while they were being transferred to other facilities, and BOP’s management of investigations into the staff sexual misconduct and abuse at FCI Dublin and other federal BOP facilities.

“We write to express our concerns regarding the recent closure and transfer of adults in custody (AICs) from the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Dublin. To ensure that the constitutional rights of AICs are not further violated and that oversight into the abuses at the facility continues in earnest, we request information about BOP’s plans to close the facility and the oversight of that process, and your agency’s efforts to investigate staff-on-AIC abuses at FCI Dublin and other federal BOP facilities,” the lawmakers wrote.

The members are seeking answers related to the decision to close the facility.

“In the weeks since BOP announced the closure of FCI Dublin on April 15, we have heard from former AICs who were recently released, family of AICs who have since been transferred from FCI Dublin, and advocates—all of whom have told us about shocking abuses that allegedly took place during the mass AIC transfers. The alleged abuses, some of which are described in the Temporary Restraining Order filed on April 19, include whistleblower retaliation, inhumane treatment, and withholding of necessary medical care,” the lawmakers continued. “These abuses have also been widely reported in the press. This level of disregard for human dignity cannot be tolerated. Additionally, the frantic nature of the closure of FCI Dublin reflects a lack of adequate planning and proper safeguards to protect the rights of AICs.”

The members have also asked that BOP provide answers on their efforts to investigate the reports of abuse.

“Further, as you know, there has been a tragic and unacceptable history of long-term abuse of AICs at FCI Dublin. Up until weeks before the closure of FCI Dublin, BOP leadership and their counsel repeatedly asserted that conditions and care at FCI Dublin were constitutionally adequate, and repeatedly denied allegations of staff misconduct and retaliation. On April 5, Judge Gonzalez Rogers appointed Special Master Wendy Still, the first such appointment in the history of federal prisons in the United States, to oversee FCI Dublin’s compliance with federal law and constitutional requirements. We share a belief in the importance of Special Master Still’s mandate and are concerned that the closure of the prison will delay or deny much-needed accountability,” the lawmakers wrote.

The letter was also signed by Representatives Judy Chu (CA-28), Anna Eshoo (CA-16), John Garamendi (CA-08), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (CA-37), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Ted Lieu (CA-36), Zoe Lofgren (CA-18), Doris Matsui (CA-07), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), and Eric Swalwell (CA-14).

A copy of the letter can be found here.

Congresswoman Pressley has introduced over a dozen pieces of precise legislation informed by her People’s Justice Guarantee to fundamentally redefine what justice looks like in America:

  • In December 2023, Rep. Pressley and Senator Peter Welch (D-VT) unveiled the Inclusive Democracy Act, brand new, first-of-its-kind legislation that would end felony disenfranchisement in Federal elections and guarantee the right to vote for incarcerated citizens. 
  • In June 2023, Rep. Pressley reintroduced her People’s Justice Guarantee, a comprehensive, decarceration-focused resolution that outlines a framework for a fair, equitable and just legal system. The resolution, developed in close partnership with activists, advocates, and those most impacted by criminal and racial injustice, calls for an ongoing and participatory “peoples process” that centers the dignity and expertise of those impacted by the broken carceral state.
  • In June 2023, Rep. Pressley and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI-12)unveiled the Housing for Formerly Incarcerated Reentry and Stable Tenancy (Housing FIRST) Actbold legislation to help people who are formerly incarcerated and those with criminal histories access safe and stable housing.
  • In May 2023, Rep. Pressley reintroduced her Justice for Incarcerated Moms Act to improve maternal health care and support for pregnant individuals who are incarcerated. It was originally introduced in March 2020 and reintroduced in February 2021 as part of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Package—a suite of 12 bills aimed at addressing the Black maternal health crisis.
  • In May 2023, Rep. Pressley and Rep. Grace Napolitano (CA-31), Co-Chair of the Mental Health Caucus, requested the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to research post-traumatic prison disorder and share findings related to prevention and treatment for people returning from behind the wall.
  • In April 2023, Rep. Pressley and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) re-introduced their Ending Qualified Immunity Act, legislation that would eliminate the unjust and court-invented doctrine of qualified immunity and restore the ability for people to obtain relief when state and local officials, including police officers, violate their legal and constitutionally secured rights. Rep. Pressley originally introduced the bill in June 2020 with Rep. Justin Amash (L-MI) and reintroduced it with Sen. Markey in March 2021.
  • In April 2023, Rep. Pressley, in partnership with Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) and Ilhan Omar (MN-05), re-introduced the Ending PUSHOUT Act, their legislation to end the punitive pushout of girls of color from schools. It was originally introduced in December 2019 and reintroduced in March 2021.
  • In March 2023, Rep. Pressley, Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), Congressman Greg Casar (TX-35) and 27 Members of Congress, alongside more than 300 advocacy organizations and community leaders, reintroduced the New Way Forward Act, a landmark piece of legislation that addresses some of the most harmful provisions of immigration law that drive racist enforcement practices, expanded incarceration in immigration detention centers, and unjust deportations. It was originally introduced in December 2019 Reps. Chuy Garcia (IL-04), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Karen Bass (CA-37) and was reintroduced in January 2021.
  • In March 2023, Rep. Pressley and her colleagues re-introduced the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act to stop federal entities’ use of facial recognition tools and prohibit federal support for state and local law enforcement entities that use biometric technology. They reintroduced the bill in June 2021.
  • In December 2022, the House passed Congresswoman Pressley’s amendment to strengthen maternal health care for people who are incarcerated.
  • In December 2021, Rep. Pressley unveiled the Fair and Independent Experts in Clemency (FIX Clemency) Act, historic legislation to transform our nation’s clemency system and address the mass incarceration crisis.
  • In March 2021, Rep. Pressley sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging him to consider H. Res. 266, the People’s Justice Guarantee, as a framework for embedding justice in our criminal legal system and building integrity in the Department of Justice (DOJ). 
  • In February 2021, October 2020, Congresswoman Pressley reintroduced the Mental Health Justice Act with Reps. Katie Porter (CA-45), Tony Cardenas (CA-29), and Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), to support the creation of mental health first responder units that would be deployed in lieu of law enforcement when 911 is called due to a mental health crisis. The lawmakers originally introduced the legislation in October 2020.
  • In January 2021, she reintroduced the Federal Death Penalty Prohibition Act of 2021 with Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) to prohibit the use of the death penalty at the federal level, and require re-sentencing of those currently on death row. The lawmakers originally introduced the bill in July 2019.
  • In August 2020, she introduced the COVID-19 in Corrections Data Transparency Act with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and others, requires federal, state, and local prisons and jails to collect and publicly report COVID-19 data. The legislation was reintroduced last month.
  • In July 2020, she introduced the Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act with Reps. Ilhan Omar (MN-05) and Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), to prohibit federal funds to support the increased presence of police in K-12 schools and supports school districts that invests in counselors.
  • In June 2020, she introduced the Dismantle Mass Incarceration for Public Health Act with Reps. Tlaib (MI-13) and Barbara Lee (CA-13) to require decarceration to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in prisons and jails.
  • In June 2020, she introduced the Andrew Kearse Accountability for Denial of Medical Care Act with Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Ed Markey (D-MA), to hold police officers criminally liable for denying care to those in medical distress.
  • In May 2020, she introduced a resolution with Reps. Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Karen Bass (CA-37) and Barbara Lee (CA-13) to condemn any and all acts of police brutality, racial profiling, and militarization and over-policing of Black and brown communities.  
  • In July 2019, she introduced the No Biometric Barriers Housing Act with Reps. Yvette Clarke (NY-09) and Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) that would prohibit the use of biometric recognition technology in most public and assisted housing units funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), protecting tenants from biased surveillance technology. 
  • In June 2019, in conjunction with Gun Violence Awareness Month and the 5th Annual National Gun Violence Awareness Day, she introduced a resolution to honor survivors of homicide victims by establishing National Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month