The shakeup is beginning.
In the wake of financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide in the federally run Metropolitan Correctional Center, Attorney General William Barr vowed publicly to hold accountable those responsible for preventing that from happening.
On Monday, the action started.
In a statement, Barr announced that Hugh Hurwitz, who had served as acting director of the Bureau of Prisons since last year, would be out of the top spot.
In his place will be Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, a career psychologist with the Bureau of Prisons who was first appointed the bureau’s director by Barr in 1992 when he held the attorney general’s spot during the George W. Bush administration.
She retired from the position in 2003, but is coming back to service.
The deputy director will be Thomas R. Kane, another career psychologist who served with the bureau for 40 years, including a stint as acting director in 2018.
According to Barr’s announcement, Hurwitz will remain with the bureau as assistant director of the bureau’s programs that help former inmates adjust to life in free society again.
Some kind of move at the top of the bureau could have been expected, given the coverage that Epstein’s death has continued to receive.
While the Aug. 10 death has been officially ruled a suicide, the severity of the financier’s alleged crimes and the fact that Epstein once traveled in the same circles as big names like former President Bill Clinton and pre-politics Donald Trump guaranteed high public interest.
The fact that the death took place under circumstances that can be charitably called suspicious – sleeping guards, falsified prison records – has only heightened public scrutiny around it.
Last week, in a speech to a Fraternal Order of Police gathering in New Orleans, Barr made it clear how furious he was at the manner in which Epstein’s custody was handled by the staff of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.
“I was appalled, and indeed the whole department was, and, frankly, angry, to learn of the MCC’s failure to adequately secure this prisoner,” the attorney general said.
“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. We will get to the bottom of what happened, and there will be accountability.”
It sounds like that accountability is well underway.
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