WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) released the fourth episode in its exclusive docu-series, Cruel & Unusual Punishment: The Male Takeover of Female Prisons. In this latest blockbuster release, Hector Bravo Ferrel, a former correctional lieutenant inside the California prison system, tells IWF his story about his decision to walk away from a stable, lucrative career to blow the whistle on “backwards” policies inside the correctional world that he says put female prison staff and female inmates at great risk.

Ferrel, the father of a five-year-old daughter and an Army veteran who served in Iraq, began his career with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in 2006. After 16 years supervising some of the state’s most dangerous criminals, Ferrel had risen to the rank of a correctional lieutenant inside a high-security men’s prison in southern San Diego, when California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 132—a new policy that allows men who identify as women to transfer into women-only prison facilities, and to be routinely searched, often fully nude, by female prison staff. 

After witnessing what he describes as “unethical” and “immoral” effects of SB 132, along with a host of other corruption, Ferrel resigned from his position on December 1, 2022. Ferrel made the decision to sacrifice his career, becoming the first whistleblower from the correctional world to speak out about policies that allow dangerous male criminals to cheat the system and gain access to female prisons.

“As we’re speaking right now, you have male inmates housed in female prisons, and God knows what’s happening inside those walls and in those cells. I’m not talking about things in the past, I’m talking about what’s happening right now—and this is why I left,” said Hector Bravo Ferrel in Independent Women’s Forum’s Cruel & Unusual Punishment. “Some of them are there for sex crimes… California’s Department of Corrections [and Rehabilitation] gave them a perfect storm to be able to exploit their sexual predatory behaviors. That’s unethical, that’s immoral, that’s dangerous.”

IWF’s Storytelling Director and co-producer of the series, Kelsey Bolar, said, “Hector Bravo Ferrel will go down in history as the first person from the correctional world to resign loudly in protest of dangerous and immoral policies that force female inmates to live alongside violent, predatory men. His story is crucial in understanding the grotesque implications of policies that prioritize men over the safety and well-being of women, and IWF is honored to be the first to tell it in our Cruel & Unusual documentary series. When the reckoning finally comes for the politicians and activists who are trying to erase the unique distinctions between the sexes, history will remember Hector Bravo Ferrel as a man who took a courageous stand for the dignity and humanity of women—at a time when few others would.”

IWF’s Storytelling Manager and co-producer of the series, Andrea Mew, added, “Hector Bravo Ferrel has seen the worst of the worst and can attest to the very real risks involved with mixing violent, male criminals in with female inmates. Vulnerable women are paying the price like guinea pigs for a woke agenda rather than getting their chance to rehabilitate and then reintegrate into society. When Ferrel resigned and left the correctional world behind, he took a massive risk. It’s our hope that his leap of faith will inspire others working within the prison system who similarly struggle to stomach such despicable policies as SB 132 to speak up for the safety of the very inmates they’re employed to protect.”

Watch Hector Bravo Ferrel’s story HERE.

Watch Riley Gaines interview Hector Bravo Ferrel and Kelsey Bolar about the implications of policies allowing for men in women’s prisons in an exclusive “Gaines for Girls” podcast episode HERE.


As more states allow men who identify as women into women’s prisons, few are aware of the harmful fallout. Women with histories of trauma and domestic abuse are forced to share their most private and intimate spaces with intact males—many of whom are violent, sexual predators serving time for heinous crimes.

Allowing male offenders to reside in women’s prisons is dangerous and unfair. Put simply, it’s cruel and unusual punishment. These stories stand as a testament to why biological sex matters, especially in institutional settings. Incarcerated women need and deserve female-only spaces. Anything less is a violation of their most basic human rights.

The eradication of single-sex prisons is harming female inmates.

In this documentary mini series, IWF brings voices to light who detail the untold, gruesome story about what’s been happening to female inmates behind closed doors. As more and more prison systems allow males to declare themselves “women” and opt to be housed in facilities meant for females, the voices of those most affected deserve to be heard. 

Watch the Cruel & Unusual Punishment: The Male Takeover of Female Prisons trailer HERE. Each episode of this ongoing short documentary series produced by IWF, varying from 5 to 10 minutes in length, will be released individually over the coming weeks, with episodes available to the public for free on YouTube.

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Independent Women’s Forum is dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities.