Congress hears testimony about sexual abuse of women in federal prisons

President Joe Biden, justice advocate Lisa McCormick, and the slow-going Attorney General Merrick

More than 100 federal prison workers have been arrested, convicted or sentenced for crimes since the start of 2019, including a warden indicted for sexual abusean associate warden charged with murder, guards taking cash to smuggle drugs and weapons, and supervisors stealing property such as tires and tractors.

Three brave women came forward to testify to Congressional leaders about the horrific and repeated sexual abuse they suffered while incarcerated in federal prisons, exposing part of the malign .

The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs held a hearing on the sexual abuse of Female Inmates in Federal Prisons on December 13, 2022.

The emotional testimonies provided a personal addition to the committee’s report about sexual abuse of female prisoners.

Government Accountability Project client, Linda De La Rosa, was one of the women who testified and shared her statement. While being held at a minimal security prison, Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Lexington, Kentucky, she experienced repeated assaults from a corrections officer making her life “a living hell.”

Investigators knew he was a sexual predator and he continued to work at the facility during the investigation before his arrest and plead.

De La Rosa also explained that she feared retaliation and punishment if she spoke up about her attacker.

The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) currently has a backlog of more than 8,000 complaints of misconduct that will take more than two years to review, according to BOP Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) Chief Beth Reese.

BOP OIA opened more than 5,000 misconduct cases involving 6,593 of the bureau’s 37,000 employees.

More than 1,100 of those cases included sexual abuse or sexual harassment of women in prison.

The agency is responsible for the custody and care of 160,030 federal inmates.

“The hearing exposed in shocking detail federal prison staff sexually abusing defenseless inmates,” said David Seide, an attorney from the Government Accountability Project. “It can and must be stopped. We thank our client, Linda De La Rosa, and the other brave whistleblower-victims who came forward yesterday to recount their personal horrors to Congress and the American people. Government Accountability Project is here to help.”

De La Rosa is also represented by Bryan E. Busch of Busch Mills & Slomka LLP.

According to a February 2020 report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, research suggests that at least 50 percent of women entering prison report that they experienced physical and/or sexual abuse before their incarceration.

“Michael’s career has been defined by his commitment to the bureau, to its mission, and to the people we all serve. I am extremely appreciative of Michael’s decades of public service, most recently at the helm of one of the most complex missions in the federal government,”

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland praised BOP Director Michael Carvajal when the jailor retired a year ago, even after Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard J. Durbin called for the official’s firing based on a report that more than 100 federal prison employees have been arrested or convicted of crimes since 2019.

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