The Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General on Tuesday issued a scathing rebuke of the Bureau of Prisons detailing the multiple failures that led to the death of high-profile financier Jeffrey Epstein following his arrest in 2019 but found no evidence to contradict the “absence of criminality” in his death.
According to the report, the failures that allowed Epstein time to die by suicide in his cell included multiple prison employees failing to conduct rounds and cell searches to check on Epstein, his access to extra bed linens – which he used to hang himself – and failure to assign Epstein a fellow inmate after he was placed on suicide watch.
The OIG, however, did not find evidence “that contradicted the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) determination regarding the absence of criminality in connection with how Epstein died,” according to the report.
Epstein was arrested in July 2019 on federal charges of sex trafficking minors. Then, in August, only 35 days after his arrest, Epstein died by suicide by hanging in his jail cell at New York City’s Metropolitan Correctional Center where he was being held, according to New York City’s medical examiner.
The politically and socially well-connected financier’s death immediately spurned conspiracy theories and significant questioning and intrigue over the circumstances.
The report indicated the Bureau of Prisons’ failings were troubling not only because they did not safeguard Epstein but also because they “led to numerous questions about the circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death” and denied Epstein’s victims justice.
Two guards on duty the night of Epstein’s death later admitted to falsifying records at the time. According to the initial indictment against the two guards, on the night of Epstein’s suicide, both individuals repeatedly failed to complete the required prisoners check during their watch.
The guards entered a deferred prosecution with the Justice Department, agreeing to complete 100 hours of community service and cooperate with the DOJ’s Inspector General review.
According to the IG’s report, the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York declined to prosecute other MCC employees who the OIG found certified or submitted false documentation regarding the inmate counts on the days surrounding Epstein’s death.
The scrutiny around Epstein’s suicide and MCC’s failures only intensified after reports revealed Epstein was put on suicide watch after he was found in his cell with bruises on his neck only to be taken off the watch a day later.
In August 2021, two years after Epstein’s death, the Bureau of Prisons announced it would close Metropolitan Correctional Center, citing the need to improve conditions in the facility. It remains closed.