FCI Dublin's closure was 'ill-conceived, like Swiss Cheese:' judge

The Bureau of Prisons' operational plan to close the Federal Correctional Institute at Dublin shortly after it was placed under unprecedented federal oversight, and quickly transfer 605 women across the country, was "ill-conceived, like Swiss Cheese," according to a judge.

That was the conclusion of U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who issued a 15-page order late Wednesday, in ordering the BOP that they still must provide medical and mental health care relief to the women they moved out of FCI Dublin, beginning on April 15. 

The women have now been transferred to: FCI Aliceville in Alabama; Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas; FCI Hazelton in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia; Miami Federal Detention Center and FCI Tallahassee, both in Florida; FCI Pekin in Illinois; Federal Medical Center Lexington in Kentucky; Federal Detention Center Philadelphia, FDC SeaTac in Seattle, Washington; FCI Victorville in California and FCI Waseca in Minnesota. 

The abrupt closure and transfer of the women "created serious concerns" for the incarcerated women, "some of which still persist," the judge wrote. 

To remedy these issues, Gonzalez Rogers ordered the BOP to provide a monthly staffing report to her and Special Master Wendy Still for each prison that the women were transferred to. That report must include the staffing level of each facility and what type of mental and medical healthcare the women are receiving. 

In addition, the BOP has to provide a weekly update of all the FCI Dublin transfers to the judge, the special master and the California Coalition of Women Prisoners' attorneys who sued the BOP on the women's behalf. 

These updates should include an accounting of the women's property, some of which was taken from them during their bus trips across the country. 

"Given the utter failure of FCI Dublin to address fundamental operational requirements, the Court's monitoring and compliance outlined herein is necessary, unfortunately," Gonzalez Rogers wrote. 


Powerless in Prison: The shutdown of FCI Dublin

In April, the Bureau of Prisons abruptly shut down the troubled FCI Dublin. KTVU explains what led up to the closure, questioning whether this was retaliation for outside oversight over the women's prison, which has been riddled with sex abuse for decades.

The judge did give credit to Warden Nancy McKinney, whom she disclosed told her about the prison closing on April 12, though she wasn't specific about when she would do it. 

And the judge did add that with McKinney's "collaboration, the Court has a measure of hope that the outstanding issues can be addressed promptly," leaving open the possibility that the oversight can be removed. 

Kara Janssen, one of the many lawyers representing the incarcerated women, said she felt the judge's order was a positive step forward, though she was trying to process exactly how the assessments and updates of hundreds of women across the country could be practically achieved.

Janssen also was pleased that Gonzalez Rogers documented and codified much of what happened following the prison's abrupt closure on April 15. 

Though the judge wrote that she didn't believe all the women's accounts of terrifying journeys or that documents had been shredded at FCI Dublin – despite several accounts otherwise, Gonzalez Rogers did note several legitimate violations, such as lack of proper medical and mental health care.

"FCI Dublin has repeatedly failed to follow BOP departmental policy related to completing timely health intakes; sick call access was delayed for extended periods; medical needs, including relative to communicable diseases, went untreated or lacked any followup; and specialty appointments were not timely scheduled," Gonzalez Rogers wrote. 

She also noted that drug treatment programs were not available for the majority of women who asked for help "despite drugs being rampant at the facility." 

The judge also addressed the complaints by women who said they were told they could only take one duffle bag to pack all of their items. 

After Gonzalez Rogers raised this issue to the BOP, the women were then given three boxes on April 28. Two boxes would be shipped to their new prison and one box would be shipped to their home, and the BOP paid for those shipping costs.

Gonzalez Rogers ordered that the women not lose any "time credits" they earned at FCI Dublin, which is a way for them to shave their prison sentence, through good behavior, and that the BOP must track any claims of retaliation by FCI Dublin transfers if they filed, or decide to file, any sexual assault claims. 

Several women have told KTVU that because they are FCI Dublin transfers, they are being poorly treated at SeaTac and Miami, for example. 

"The BOP cannot hide from or escape its obligations by merely closing FCI Dublin," Gonzalez Rogers wrote. 

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