DUBLIN, Calif. - A total of 25 employees at the federal all-women's prison in Dublin are under investigation for a range of abuses that allege inappropriate sex, use of drugs and falsifying records, according to a Freedom of Information Act request obtained by KTVU.
Of those, only three of the investigations were focused on managers, raising serious questions with John Kostelnik, the Western region vice president for the correctional workers union.
"Why aren't the managers being held accountable?"Kostelnik asked rhetorically on Thursday. "They are covering up for managers. Change has to come from the top down."
A spokesperson for Federal Correctional Institute Dublin sent an email to KTVU that said the department doesn't comment on open investigations and would not discuss why so few managers are on the list.
However, in a lengthy statement, the Dublin prison representative wrote: "The BOP [Bureau of Prisons] has zero tolerance for any kind of sexual abuse or misconduct."
The representative added that Dublin prison administrators have been helping with criminal investigations, which have led to some guilty pleas.
The email also made reference to a vow made by Deputy U.S. Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco, who said: "Above all else, the Bureau of Prisons is charged with providing safe and humane treatment of all who are in their custody."
In addition, a March audit of the prison's compliance with a federal law aimed at eliminating rape and sexual abuse, called the PREA Act, found the facility met 45 specific standards, and did not fail any category.
The women's prison roughly holds 1,100 women on minimum or low security for an average of five years. There are roughly 220 employees who have contact with those who are at the prison or its camp.
The FOIA records request showed employees under investigation from June 2021 to March 2022. The names of the employees are redacted and the specific narratives for the allegations were not made public. All of the cases are pending.
However, the general subject of the investigation, and whether the employee is a union member or not – meaning they are in management – were made public through the FOIA.
Most of the investigations are sexual in nature.
They include inquiries into the violations of the Prison Rape Elimination Act, appearance of an inappropriate relationship, abusive sexual contact, abuse of drugs and alcohol, unprofessional conduct, unauthorized use of an electronic device and falsification of employment records.
The FOIA request asked for open investigations after a special task force was convened in March to look into such matters, and a team of Congressional leaders visited Dublin, saying that the prison was a toxic environment.
John Kostelnick, western region vice president for the prison guard union, also spoke to reporters outside FCI Dublin. March 14, 2022
FCI Dublin has been nicknamed the "rape club," the Associated Press first reported.
One formerly incarcerated woman, Andrea Reyes, told KTVU in an exclusive interview this year that not only was she raped, but former Officer Ross Klinger also dug into her mental health records to find her triggers and manipulate her. Klinger has since pleaded guilty to three counts of a sexual abuse of a ward; one of whom includes Reyes. He has yet to be sentenced.
Five employees – including former Warden Ray J. Garcia – have been indicted by the Department of Justice, all for having illegal sex with incarcerated women; their cases are each winding their way through federal court.
Despite all the focus from high levels of government regarding the Dublin prison, Kostelnik is still dismayed.
He cited a case of a captain who was cronies with a high-up administrator who was charged with sexual abuse, and instead of being investigated himself, was moved from Dublin to the Atwater prison.
Last month, Kostelnik and 16 other prison union presidents wrote Melissa Rios, regional director for the Western region of the Bureau of Prisons, saying they had no confidence in her leadership.
"Those entrusted in the highest of positions under your leadership have failed and even committed crimes," their letter stated. "Whistleblower protection and rights have not only gone ignored but have been blatantly violated."
Ultimately, Kostelnik said in his opinion, the situation is not getting any better.
"Since the task force and the Congressional tour, the problems of covering up have become even worse," he said. "They're just doubling down on their behavior. It's all just smoke and mirrors."