Women sexually abused in prison. Inmates facing retribution for speaking out and then suddenly being moved to lockups across the country. Courts holding secret hearings without notice, shutting out the press and public.

No, this isn’t Russia. This is right here in the Bay Area. And it is appalling.

The Biden administration’s recent announcement that it was immediately closing the federal prison housing about 600 women in Dublin has turned into a revictimization of inmates.

Federal Correctional Institution Dublin is the prison where jailers, including the warden, sexually abused prisoners. Eight jail officers have faced criminal charges, and seven of them have been sentenced.

U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, after months reviewing prison conditions, concluded in March that “Dublin is a dysfunctional mess. The situation can no longer be tolerated. The facility is in dire need of immediate change.”

She noted there had been ongoing retaliation for the convictions and sentencing of prison officials guilty of criminal sexual abuse and sexual contact. The judge said that she would appoint a special master, providing unprecedented oversight of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons system.

But a month later, and a week after the special master assumed control of the facility, federal officials announced they were closing it. The Bureau of Prisons, an agency within the U.S. Department of Justice, had said it was working to improve conditions at FCI Dublin, but once a special master was appointed, the agency suddenly declared that the prison “is not meeting expected standards and that the best course of action is to close the facility.”

That was April 15. Eleven days later, on Friday, the prison’s website reported just 24 inmates remained. The treatment of the women during the chaotic transfer was horrifying.

Nearly a dozen women and their relatives, in interviews with this news organization, described grueling cross-country bus trips and flights — some without medical prescriptions or sanitary products, prisoners say — with little sense of their destination.

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These prisoners are not hardened killers. FCI Dublin, built a half century ago, is a low-security prison that housed people such as Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss, convicted (and later pardoned) SLA bank robber Patty Hearst and actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman for their roles in the Varsity Blues college admissions scam.

The great majority of those incarcerated at the prison were convicted of drug offenses, and more than 90% are survivors of trauma, according to the judge’s findings.

Yet they were abruptly moved as far as Minnesota and Miami. Inmates from the Bay Area, whose children were able to visit them in prison, fear they won’t see their kids again. Those with pending release dates to halfway houses worry those plans will be lost in the chaos.

The abrupt closure apparently blindsided the judge, the special master and lawyers representing the women who had just gained certification for a class-action lawsuit.

The prisoners’ attorneys filed a motion seeking a restraining order trying to temporarily stop the transfer so that the special master could ensure the prisoners were properly treated.

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