Questions swirl around Jeffrey Epstein’s monitoring before suicide


NEW YORK — One of Jeffrey Epstein’s guards the night he hanged himself in his federal jail cell wasn’t a regular correctional officer, according to a person familiar with the detention center, which is now under scrutiny for what Attorney General William Barr on Monday called “serious irregularities.”

Epstein, 66, was found Saturday morning in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a jail previously renowned for its ability to hold notorious prisoners under extremely tight security.

“I was appalled, and indeed the whole department was, and frankly angry to learn of the MCC’s failure to adequately secure this prisoner,” Barr said at a police conference in New Orleans. “We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation. The FBI and the office of inspector general are doing just that.”

He added: “We will get to the bottom of what happened and there will be accountability.”

In the days since Epstein’s death while awaiting charges that he sexually abused underage girls, a portrait has begun to emerge of Manhattan’s federal detention center as a chronically understaffed facility that possibly made a series of missteps in handling its most high-profile inmate.

Epstein had been placed on suicide watch after he was found in his cell a little over two weeks ago with bruises on his neck. But he had been taken off that watch at the end of July and returned to the jail’s special housing unit.

There, Epstein was supposed to have been checked on by a guard about every 30 minutes. But investigators have learned those checks weren’t done for several hours before Epstein was found unresponsive, according to a person familiar with the episode. That person was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and also spoke on condition of anonymity.

A second person familiar with operations at the jail said one of the two people guarding Epstein in the hours before he was found with a bedsheet around his neck wasn’t a correctional officer, but a fill-in who had been pressed into service because of staffing shortfalls. That person also wasn’t authorized to disclose information about the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

It wasn’t clear what the substitute’s regular job was, but federal prisons facing shortages of fully trained guards have resorted to having other types of support staff fill in for correctional officers, including clerical workers and teachers.

The news that one of Epstein’s guards wasn’t a correctional officer was first reported by The New York Times.

The manner in which Epstein killed himself has not been announced publicly by government officials. An autopsy was performed Sunday, but New York City Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said investigators were awaiting further information. A private pathologist, Dr. Michael Baden, observed the autopsy at the request of Epstein’s lawyers.

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Source:: The Denver Post – World

      

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