A cascade of misconduct, negligence and mistakes by Federal Bureau of Prisons employees created the conditions that allowed accused sex offender Jeffrey Epstein to hang himself in his Manhattan jail cell in 2019, according to a new report by the Justice Department inspector general who finds no evidence to contradict the official conclusion that Epstein was not murdered.
The 120-page report, released Tuesday, found some level of misconduct by 13 Bureau of Prisons employees, including two who were criminally charged and four others whose criminal references were rejected by federal prosecutors. The employees failed to monitor Epstein, lied about it, allowed him to keep extra clothes in her cell and failed to ensure he had a cellmate as recommended, according to the report.
The Bureau of Prisons said in a written response included in the report that it agreed with all eight of the report’s recommendations and that the «troubling» conduct described was not representative of the 35,000 employees who work at 120 federal correctional institutions.
«We note that several best practices have already been implemented to address the issues at hand,» the office said. «These improvements include diligent review of restrictive housing video footage to ensure employee rounds are completed quickly and accurately.»
However, the report from the DOJ’s watchdog office makes it clear that the type of failures described have been «recurring,» even as documented in a similar IG report last year about how the murdered defendant and crime boss organized Whiter Bulger was murdered in a high-security federal prison. in 2018. Ted Kaczynski, the man known as the Unabomber, committed suicide in a federal prison in North Carolina earlier this month.
The facility where Epstein committed suicide, the New York Metropolitan Correctional Center, was ordered closed in 2021 so that the government could address infrastructure deficiencies there.
Many of the key facts outlined in the Epstein IG report were previously known, but the report goes into extensive detail about what happened at the prison in the days and hours leading up to when Epstein was found hanging in a sitting position from the top bunk in his cell on August 9, 2019. At the time, the millionaire financier was facing multiple charges of sex trafficking, and a slew of incriminating material had just been revealed in court.
The report concurs with the New York medical examiner’s findings that Epstein’s cause of death was consistent with hanging and that the lack of defensive wounds or drugs in his system pointed to suicide.
The IG report says Epstein’s cellmate told prison staff that he tried to hang himself on July 23, when he was found with an orange cloth around his neck. Epstein was then briefly placed on suicide watch and removed. The prison’s psychological unit concluded that he needed to be housed with an appropriate cellmate, and an email was sent to 70 prison staff informing them of this requirement, the report said.
But when Epstein’s cellmate was moved out of his cell on the morning of August 9, no action was taken and Epstein was left alone in his cell. Two prison staff members assigned to his unit then failed to search Epstein’s cell or check on him every 30 minutes, and then lied about it, according to the report. As a result, Epstein was not observed for four hours before his death.
Epstein had made a new last will and testament with his lawyers the day before his death, but prison officials were unaware of it, investigators found.
On the day he took his own life, Epstein, 66, was also allowed to make an unmonitored phone call in violation of the policy, the report says, to a woman with whom he was in an alleged relationship.
“The combination of neglect, misconduct and outright failures in job performance documented in today’s report contributed to an environment in which possibly one of the most notorious inmates in BOP custody was left unsupervised and alone in his cell with a excess prison sheets, thereby giving him the opportunity to take his own life,» Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in a statement.
Horowitz added that the failures raised questions about the cause of death and «effectively deprived Epstein’s many victims of the opportunity to seek justice.»