Epstein's Death Reveals Disturbing Negligence in U.S. Prisons, DOJ Watchdog Report Says

  • Staff Consortium
  • June 28, 2023

Jeffrey Epstein.

A damning report by the Justice Department's watchdog reveals a disturbing pattern of negligence and misconduct within the federal prison system, highlighting the failures that allowed disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein to take his own life in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan in August 2019. The report, released by Inspector General Michael Horowitz, sheds light on chronic problems plaguing the beleaguered prison system.

Despite Epstein's recent suicide attempt, the staff at the Metropolitan Correctional Center failed to take necessary precautions, according to the report. They did not assign him a cellmate, neglected to search his cell, and failed to conduct proper rounds. Moreover, they provided him with extra bedding, which he used to hang himself. The surveillance cameras in the unit where Epstein was housed were turned on but broken, depriving investigators of any video evidence of the night he died.

The report exposes a jail that was understaffed, poorly managed, and ill-equipped to handle suicidal inmates. One staff member who was responsible for supervising Epstein had been working for 24 consecutive hours before the accused sex trafficker was discovered dead in his cell.

Inspector General Horowitz emphasized that the combination of negligence, misconduct, and job performance failures created an environment that allowed Epstein to take his own life. The report's findings fueled conspiracy theories and denied his victims the opportunity to see him face justice. Horowitz called for urgent action from the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to address these recurring problems.

Jeffrey Epstein, 66 years old at the time, was found dead on the morning of August 10, 2019. He was being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on charges related to the sex trafficking of minors. Prosecutors alleged that Epstein had been involved in a yearslong sex-trafficking operation, luring underage girls to his residences and engaging them in illicit activities. Epstein had pleaded not guilty and faced a potential prison sentence of up to 45 years.

Colette Peters, the current director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, acknowledged the misconduct described in the report and stated that the agency had already started implementing the inspector general's recommendations. The BOP has begun reviewing video footage to ensure proper observation of at-risk inmates and has implemented additional reporting and training procedures, particularly in suicide prevention.

The inspector general's investigation identified 13 employees who failed in their duties or demonstrated poor judgment. Four of them were referred to the Justice Department for potential prosecution. Two guards, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, were charged with conspiracy and records falsification, though they reached an agreement with federal prosecutors to resolve the charges without serving jail time.

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