FCI Dublin: Judge appoints special master over troubled prison

A federal judge on Friday chose the former chief probation officer of Alameda County to be a special master over FCI Dublin.

U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers appointed Wendy Still to start the job effective immediately. 

She allowed Still to have a staff including nurse consultant Jackie Clark, program director Dawn Davison; data analyst Barbara Owen and special assistant Sara Malone. 

"Ms. Still and her team shall have full access to FCI Dublin, all its records, and all physical facilities as necessary to provide the Court with the information necessary to address the issues
raised in the Order, both in terms of assessment and implementation," the judge wrote in her order. "The warden shall take all steps to ensure such access."

Still can charge a rate of $172 an hour and will set the salaries of her employees at no more than that amount. There is no time frame set for her tenure at this point. 

The Bureau of Prisons told KTVU in an email it had no comment on Still's selection. 

Still was proposed by attorneys Kara Janssen and Susan Beaty, who are representing women in a case called California Coalition of Women Prisoners against the Bureau of Prisons. Attorneys for the Bureau of Prisons had previously argued there was no need for a special master as the culture at FCI Dublin has changed for the better. 

"I think she's a really great choice," Janssen said on Friday. "I'm hoping now we will see change. I cannot overstate how bad the conditions are inside the facility and how deeply reform is needed." 

Janssen noted Still's "experience, local connections and ability to work right away" as key reasons why she is a good choice. She also noted that Still is "not a BOP insider." 

A lot of things need to change, Janssen said, including providing better mental health and medical care and stopping retaliation against women, like putting them in solitary confinement, for speaking up. And of course, Janssen said, there are still reports of ongoing sexual abuse. 

Janssen said that she and her clients are thrilled and grateful that the judge has moved so urgently to make changes at the prison. 

Still's role as special master will be unprecedented. The BOP has never had such oversight. And her task will be Herculean.

She will be charged with ensuring reforms occur at the troubled prison, where eight correctional officers, including the warden, have been charged with sex crimes – seven of whom have already been sentenced to prison. In addition, the FBI raided FCI Dublin in March with possible further, unknown charges pending. 

In addition, the Bureau of Prisons returned a nearly 200-page report to the court on Friday, showing there is indeed mold and asbestos at FCI Dublin – health issues incarcerated women have been complaining about for years. 

Gonzalez Rogers toured FCI Dublin herself in February and wrote a scathing order in mid-March, calling FCI Dublin "a dysfunctional mess. The situation can no longer be tolerated. The facility is in need of dire change." 

As of April 2024, seven FCI Dublin correctional officers have been sentenced for sex crimes and the eighth officer seems to be heading to trial. 

According to her bio, Still has worked in the corrections field for four decades. She retired from the Alameda County Probation Department in 2021. 

She has developed "gender responsive, trauma-informed offender prison and community rehabilitation programs and strategic master plans designed to improve outcomes and reduce recidivism for California’s offenders and parolees."

Still has also served as director of the Activation Management and Rehabilitation Programs with the California Federal Prison Health Care Services and as the associate director for the Female Offender Programs & Services. She also was the regional prison administrator for 10 prisons.

Still earned her masters in criminal, law and society from the University of California, Irvine. 

And she earned her bachelors degree in organizational behavior from the University of San Francisco. 

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at lisa.fernandez@fox.com or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez