Federal Prison Suicides Were Rising Before Jeffrey Epstein's Death, Says 'USA Today' Report

The suicide of convicted sex offender and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein has ignited many conspiracy theories thanks to his ties to the wealthy and powerful, including Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. Regardless, The Inquisitr reported that Attorney General William Barr said that the FBI and Justice Department's inspector general investigations into his death still haven't revealed any information to suggest it was anything but a suicide.

USA Today appears to support Barr's statement and reports that Epstein's death — the first recorded suicide at Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in 13 years — was part of a greater trend of increasing suicides across the Bureau of Prisons. Although the overall inmate population is rising, there have been 27 federal inmate suicides in the fiscal year that ended in September 2018, which is the highest number in the past five years. Since October 1, another 21 federal inmates have taken their own lives.

While many pointed to staffing deficits and a lack of training at the MCC, these might not be the only factors fueling the situation.

"It's part of the problem, but the biggest problem is that vast majority of people don't care about prisoners who are largely seen as lesser than the average citizen," said Cameron Lindsay, a former warden at three federal prisons and a prison consultant. "I'm not saying that all (prison) staffers don't care; it's more about leadership setting the tone."

Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson slammed Alabama prison conditions after a string of 15 suicides during a 15-month period that began in 2017.

"The risk of suicide is so severe and imminent that the court must redress it immediately," he said. "Unless and until (the state) lives up to its Eighth Amendment obligations, avoidable tragedies will continue."

Per The Inquisitr, New York attorney Joel Wertheimer previously said Epstein's suicide reflected a more significant problem in United States prisons. Per Associated Press, there were 372 suicides reported in 2014 across 3,000 jails reportedly linked to patterns of neglect and inmate maltreatment.

"I think people are arguing [that] with Jeffrey Epstein… he should have gotten more watch, or that how could this happen while somebody was on suicide watch," Wertheimer said, adding that in reality, people are on suicide watch all the time.

Just a bit longer than a week after Epstein's suicide, Hugh Hurwitz, the acting director of the federal Bureau of Prisons since May 2018, was removed from his position and replaced. Per The Inquisitr, he was replaced with one of the agency's former directors, Kathleen Hawk. The announcement was made by Barr, who highlighted that there are currently four federal investigations into Epstein's death.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.