Marco Rubio: DOJ Needs to Look at Sexual Abuse Allegations at FCC Coleman

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., urged U.S. Attorney General William Barr to conduct a thorough review of all Bureau of Prisons (BOP) inmate and staff protocols, processes, reporting systems, and employee reviews after reports of allegations regarding systemic and pervasive sexual abuse of inmates by BOP corrections officers at Coleman Federal Correctional Complex (FCC Coleman) in Central Florida.

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Attorney General Barr:

I write with regard to extremely troubling allegations detailed by the Miami Herald that purports misconduct by numerous Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) corrections officers at Coleman Federal Correctional Complex (FCC Coleman) in Central Florida. The Herald’s investigation reveals that the environment at FCC Coleman has enabled systemic and pervasive sexual abuse and misuse of authority by BOP employees over a number of years. These allegations are simply abhorrent, and I urge you to take immediate action to ensure such behavior is neither happening, nor tolerated, at FCC Coleman or any other BOP facility.

The Herald reports that more than a dozen female inmates at FCC Coleman have alleged specific and detailed instances of sexual abuse at the hands of BOP employees. Furthermore, the reporting notes that accounts of such abuse are met with remedial actions effectively more punitive on the inmate victims rather than the alleged perpetrators. Naturally, and as the Herald notes, these “male staffers maintained total control over the women’s lives, safety, and well-being.” This dynamic warrants further emphasis:  the alleged victims are inmates serving their debt to society in the care of federal employees and in the confines of federal facilities.

BOP’s mission statement reads, in part, that it is the bureau’s mission “to protect society by confining offenders in the controlled environments of prisons and community-based facilities that are safe, humane, [. . . ] and that provide work and other self-improvement opportunities to assist offenders in becoming law-abiding citizens.” Furthermore, included as “Core Values” for the bureau are “Respect” and “Integrity,” which respectively includes “…recogniz[ing] the value and dignity of staff, inmates and the general public,” and “demonstrat[ing] uncompromising ethical conduct in all our actions.” Finally, “Core Ideologies” note that the bureau is committed to providing a safe environment and ethical and professional staff. The actions of a few bad actors should not impugn the service and good work of many, but these allegations must be taken seriously.

I respectfully, but urgently, ask you to conduct a thorough review of all BOP inmate and staff protocols, processes, reporting systems, and employee reviews to ensure that they reflect the bureau’s values and commitments to not only public safety, but the safety and dignity of individuals serving their debt to society in the care of the federal government.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

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