One of the Metropolitan Correctional Center guards assigned to check on Jeffrey Epstein – the convicted pedophile who faced up to 45 years behind bars on sex-trafficking charges – was not a correctional officer, according to recent reports.
Prison officials found Epstein in his cell early Saturday morning. According to the New York Post, Epstein “apparently killed himself by kneeling toward the floor and strangling himself with the makeshift noose, a law enforcement source said Monday.” The sex offender was reportedly taken off suicide watch last month, per his lawyers’ request, and moved to “special observation status,” which required a check every 30 minutes, as well as a cellmate.
Epstein’s cellmate was removed the day prior and not replaced for unknown reasons.
The two guards assigned to check on Epstein left him alone for several hours, and one of them was not a correctional officer, according to the AP. This revelation follows reports of staffing shortages within the facility.
As the AP reports:
A person familiar with operations at the federal jail where Jeffrey Epstein killed himself says one of the two people guarding him the night he died wasn’t a correctional officer.
The person wasn’t authorized to disclose information about the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Federal prisons facing shortages of fully trained guards have resorted to having other types of support staff fill in for correctional officers, including clerical workers and teachers.
The New York Times corroborated the AP’s report, adding that “officials did not say what sort of job the other employee usually worked.”
Many of these staff members only receive a few weeks’ training in correctional work, and, while required by contract to serve as substitutes, are often uncomfortable in the roles. Even workers who previously held correctional positions have said that the practice was unsettling because fewer colleagues were on hand to provide backup if things turned ugly.
New York City’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Barbara Sampson, confirmed that they conducted an autopsy Sunday but said the Medical Examiner’s Office needs “further information.”
“The ME’s determination is pending further information at this time,” Sampson stated.
Attorney General Barr said Monday that they are learning of “serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning” and vowed to “get to the bottom of what happened.”
“There will be accountability,” he added.