Prison Rape Elimination Act

Eight members of the House of Representatives have joined the fracas over the Bureau of Prisons’ mismanagement at FCI Dublin (California), where rampant sexual abuse of female inmates has resulted in the arrests of four employees, including the former warden and chaplain, as well as the resignation of the warden.

PREA or the Prison Rape Elimination Act was at the center of it all.

Prison Rape Elimination Act

Recently, members of the House Judiciary Committee and its oversight subcommittees sent a letter to BOP Director Michael Carvajal requesting a copy of the Prison Rape Elimination Act audit done at FCI Dublin, California, by the end of the month by the end of this month.

(The most recent PREA audit of FCI Dublin, which found everything to be in perfect working order, took place in 2017, even while the “Rape Club” was in full bloom. Which has already seen the conviction of the Chaplin, and another member of the staff, but it’s expected to see the conviction of the warden as well. The new warden was even booted.

That’s hardly surprising:

“the same year some of the 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 said it substantiated only four of those complaints and that 290 are still being investigated. It would not say whether the allegations were confined to female correctional facilities or were widespread throughout the system.”

In 2020, Associated Press reported

One percent of all inmate complaints are upheld (or three percent if you count only the investigations that have been completed, with the belief that the remaining 290 investigations still ongoing two years later have a snowball’s chance in hell of concluding in favor of the inmate complainant) .

In addition, the group requested that Inspector General Michael Horowitz of the Department of Justice conduct an inspection at Dublin. In a letter to the Inspector General, they stated:

We first became aware of the systemic problems facing FCI Dublin when many credible news outlets published thorough articles and investigations into the situation earlier this month… Predatory male personnel, such as former Warden Ray Garcia, former Chaplain James Theodore Highhouse, Prison Safety Administrator John Bellhouse, and recycling worker Ross Klinger, are accused of subjecting the all-female inmate population of FCI Dublin to widespread sexual harassment and abuse.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz

In addition, the Senate Judiciary Committee is looking into recent difficulties with the Bureau of Prisons. On February 23rd, Chairman Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) of the Senate Judiciary Committee requested information from the Department of Justice (DOJ) about recent reports of BOP staff misbehavior and sexual assault.

Meanwhile, the situation in Dublin continues to deteriorate. DOJ said last week it is “gravely concerned about allegations that a high-ranking federal prison official entrusted to end sexual abuse and cover-ups at a women’s prison known as the “rape club” may have taken steps to suppress a recent complaint about staff misconduct.”

In response, the director went for a tour of the facility. VERY proactive…

The Associated Press reported last week that BOP Deputy Regional Director T. Ray Hinkle has been accused of attempting to silence a female employee who claimed she had been harassed by an FCI Dublin manager by meeting with her in person, in violation of established protocols, in order to silence the employee.

The Rape Club

“These allegations, if true, are abhorrent, and the Department of Justice takes them very seriously,” DOJ told AP.

When Hinkle served as acting warden for the city of Dublin, he promised the staff that he would help the city “regain its reputation.” Just not in the way he thought. His BOP superiors reprimanded him for sending all-staff emails that were critical of the agency’s leadership and procedures, which ended this week. Probably because they did not want him to make it that public.

A letter obtained by the Associated Press said Hinkle complained that he had been unable to defend himself in news reports claiming he had bullied whistleblower employees, threatened to close Dublin if employees continued to speak out about misconduct, and stonewalled a Congresswoman who attempted to speak candidly with staff and inmates at the prison last month, according to the AP.

Not like he really needed to considering the emails were already out there. What he should have said, and it would have been more accurate, is he did not get a chance to come up with an excuse for it.

Naphcare

It was also criticized last week for inadequate planning in its contract with private healthcare provider NaphCare for some inmate medical services, which was awarded to NaphCare last year. Earlier this year, the Bureau announced the award of a three-year blanket purchase agreement to NaphCare to provide care for offenders in home confinement and halfway houses.

However, despite the fact that the contract’s initial ceiling value was less than $4 million, officials were able to leverage the arrangement to add an additional $52 million in health care services. When it came time to renew the contract, the BOP issued sole-source awards to prolong it for three more years, one year at at time, which was in violation of federal contracting standards.

Sources: LisaLegal

AP, House Dems demand to see investigation into rapes at Dublin women’s prison (March 4, 2022)

Legal Examiner, Sex Abuse, Corruption in U.S. Prisons to Be Examined By Lawmakers (March 2, 2022)

Pleasanton Weekly, Members of Congress demand investigation into ‘rampant’ abuse at Dublin prison (March 7, 2022)

AP, ‘Abhorrent’: Prison boss vexes DOJ with alleged intimidation (March 4, 2022)

Federal News Network, Certain agencies miss getting a clean audit bill of health for differing reasons (February 28, 2022)