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Negligence, staff failures led to Jeffrey Epstein's suicide, a DOJ report says

This March 28, 2017, photo provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry shows Jeffrey Epstein.
New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP
This March 28, 2017, photo provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry shows Jeffrey Epstein.

Negligence, misconduct and job performance failures all contributed to the suicide of Jeffrey Epstein, the notorious financier who was jailed for child-sex trafficking charges, while in jail in 2019, according to a new report by the U.S. Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General.

Systemic problems at the Federal Bureau of Prisons as well as several issues at New York's Metropolitan Correctional Center, the jail in which Epstein was incarcerated when he died, contributed to one of the BOP's most high profile inmates taking his own life, the report released Tuesday said.

Severe staffing shortages, failures at managing inmates at risk for suicide, issues with maintaining working security cameras and a "widespread disregard of BOP policies and procedures" were seen in the Epstein case and continues to be endemic throughout the bureau nationwide, the report said.

Epstein hanged himself while under the BOP's custody before he could stand trial for sex trafficking charges.

This report, and numerous other similar reviews into the BOP by OIG have, "repeatedly identified long-standing operational challenges at the BOP that negatively affect its ability to operate institutions safely and securely," according to the report.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz appeared to directly address far-right conspiracy theoriesthat have flourished in the wake of Epstein's death.

He said though there were failures at several levels, and Epstein appeared to receive special treatment while in jail, his death was still a suicide.

"While we determined MCC New York staff engaged in significant misconduct, we did not uncover evidence contradicting the FBI's determination there was no criminality in connection with how Epstein died," Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in a message provided in the report.

Contrary to MCC and BOP policies and procedures, Epstein was allowed to sleep on the floor, had extra blankets and clothes. Photos of Epstein's cell included in the report shows piles of what appears to be orange clothes strewn about the floor and bed.

Epstein was also allowed to use a jail phone the night before he died that was unmonitored, in violation of BOP policy, and was not re-assigned a new cellmate despite previously attempting suicide.

Epstein was also supposed to be under watch for that prior attempt. But two correctional officers, Michael Thomas and Tova Noel, who were assigned to guard Epstein overnight failed to complete more than 75 mandatory checks on him. He was left in his cell overnight, and only discovered dead at 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 10.

Those two officers were laterchargedfor failing to check on Epstein and then fabricating records to hide it. Prosecution was deferred in that case.

Two other BOP employees, who went unnamed in the report but whose titles were Evening Watch SHU Officer in Charge and Material Handler, were referred for criminal charges due to falsely certifying inmate counts and rounds on the day before and after Epstein's death. Prosecution was ultimately declined for those staffers.

In the wake of his suicide, the numerous problems at Metropolitan Correctional Center came to light, ultimately leading to officials to announce the closureof the facility in 2021.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jaclyn Diaz