There are plenty of questions after the death of financier and alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein in an apparent suicide on Saturday. The obvious one: How was he able to do it?
Just two weeks prior, Epstein was injured in what was described as another suicide attempt. There were questions at the time as to whether the attempt was a ruse in order to obtain a transfer or injuries inflicted by another inmate.
Whatever the case, Epstein was put on suicide watch. And then, somehow, he was taken off it. This was a peculiar decision, given that he was the most infamous prisoner in the notorious Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City, recently the home of infamous drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.
Things get worse from there, if a report from Reuters is accurate.
According to the wire service, sources within the correctional facility say that mandatory checks conducted on prisoners weren’t carried out during the overnight hours.
The report laid out a damning picture of how Epstein was handled in the facility.
“Even though Epstein was found unconscious last month, he had recently been taken off suicide watch, a special set of procedures for inmates in danger of taking their own life, according to the source. The financier was in a cell by himself when his body was found,” the report read.
“It was not immediately clear why Epstein was taken off suicide watch.
“At the MCC, two jail guards are required to make separate checks on all prisoners every 30 minutes, but that procedure was not followed overnight, according to the source. In addition, every 15 minutes guards are required to make another check on prisoners who are on suicide watch.”
Per Fox News: “The 66-year-old Epstein was found unresponsive inside his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City around 6:30 a.m. Life-saving measures were initiated immediately by responding staff. He was transported to the New York Presbyterian-Lower Manhattan Hospital and was dead on arrival, officials said.”
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) August 11, 2019
This is one of those “So let me get this straight…” moments.
Epstein was a notorious sybarite who found himself in the profoundly spartan Metropolitan Correctional Center, a place “El Chapo” referred to as “torture.”
His criminal trial would have been one of the most scrutinized and consequential of this century. He’d already engaged, just two weeks ago, in what could credibly be termed a suicide attempt.
The evidence arrayed against him was far from inconsequential. If convicted, he could have spent the rest of his natural life behind bars.
Just days prior, a 2016 deposition in a civil case against Epstein’s alleged procurer — former partner Ghislaine Maxwell — was unsealed. In that deposition, a woman who claims she was trafficked by Epstein said she was forced to have sex with numerous powerful individuals, including former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Maine Sen. George Mitchell. (Both denied the charges.)
All of this adds up to a picture of someone who would, at the very least, be a prime candidate for another suicide attempt, yet he was apparently taken off suicide watch.
Furthermore, in one of the most severe correctional facilities in America, we are now told by a credible news outlet that mandatory checks on prisoners weren’t carried out during the overnight hours — precisely the time, it seems, that Epstein died.
Attorney General William Barr has promised an investigation, saying that he “was appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead early this morning from an apparent suicide while in federal custody” and that his “death raises serious questions that must be answered.”
He’s right. Those questions need to begin with seriously questioning every aspect of this case — including why on earth an infamous and suicidal prisoner in the complex was taken off suicide watch and why guards at the institution failed to do mandatory checks. The federal government failed Epstein’s accusers and the American people. That failure needs to be met with swift accountability.
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