Attorney General William Barr announced Monday that the Justice Department has learned of “serious irregularities” at the New York high-security federal prison where Jeffrey Epstein died in an apparent suicide on Saturday, per NBC News.
Barr told the Fraternal Order of Police conference in New Orleans this afternoon he was “appalled” and “frankly angry” to learn of the Metropolitan Correctional Center’s “failure to adequately secure” Epstein while under special observation status—ironic, seeing that the Barr-spearheaded Justice Department is the entity that oversees the Bureau of Prisons agency of which the MCC is a part in the first place.
Despite being found “semiconscious in the fetal position” in his cell with marks on his neck not two weeks ago, Epstein was not on suicide watch at the time of his death, according to NBC News.
The MCC placed Epstein under observation after pulling the accused sex trafficker off a suicide watch in late July. The observation entailed corrections officers visiting Epstein every 30 minutes and pairing him with a cellmate, but in the wake of the accused sex trafficker’s death, “a number of hours” elapsed between check-ins, and his cellmate was released and not replaced, an administration official told NBC News.
Though the most dire, Epstein’s death isn’t the first reported instance of staff negligence and the facility’s infrastructural shortcomings. The Chief Leader previously reported the MCC—and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in general—was undergoing a staffing shortage that has resulted in corrections officers doubling and tripling their shifts, and secretaries and case managers having to do the work of corrections officers.
The circumstances surrounding Epstein’s suspected hanging are currently under investigation by the FBI and Department of Justice Inspector General’s Office. Barr noted “there will be accountability” for Epstein’s ongoing sex trafficking case.
“Let me assure you that case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein,” Barr said. “Any co-conspirators should not rest easy. Victims deserve justice and will get it.”