Published on: Tuesday, June 27, 2023

The Justice Department’s watchdog said Tuesday that a “combination of negligence and misconduct” enabled financier Jeffrey Epstein to take his own life at a federal jail in New York City while he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges (article available here).

The report issued by Inspector General Michael Horowitz cited the federal Bureau of Prisons’ failure to assign Epstein a cellmate after his previous one left and problems with surveillance cameras as factors in Epstein’s death.

“The combination of negligence, misconduct and outright job performance failures documented in the report all contributed to an environment in which arguably one of the most notorious inmates in BOP’s custody was provided with the opportunity to take his own life,” the report said, referring to lapses by Federal Bureau of Prisons personnel.

The inspector general echoed previous findings that some members of the jail staff involved in guarding Epstein were overworked. He identified 13 employees with poor performance and recommended charges against six workers. Only the two workers tasked with guarding Epstein were charged, avoiding jail time in a plea deal after admitting to falsifying logs.

The workers assigned to guard Epstein were sleeping and shopping online instead of checking on him every 30 minutes as required, prosecutors said.

A year after Epstein’s death, prosecutors charged his former girlfriend, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell with sex-trafficking and recruiting girls for him. Her lawyers claimed at trial that she being prosecuted solely because Epstein was dead. Maxwell was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

It’s the second time in six months that the inspector general has blamed a high-profile inmate’s death on the Bureau of Prisons’ failings. In December, the inspector general found that management failures, flawed policies and widespread incompetence were factors in notorious gangster James “Whitey” Bulger’s 2018 beating death at a troubled West Virginia prison.