Jeffrey Epstein had been placed on suicide watch in his Manhattan jail cell but it was lifted some time before he took his life earlier this month, the Justice Department confirmed on Friday.
Epstein hanged himself inside his cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan and was declared dead after being rushed to a nearby hospital, leading Attorney General William Barr to launch a federal investigation into how the billionaire sex trafficker was able to take his own life despite being under heavy security. As USA Today reported, the Justice Department confirmed earlier reporting that Epstein was removed from suicide watch after he was evaluated by a psychiatrist.
According to an article from The Week, the Department of Justice did not say why Epstein had been taken off suicide watch, but noted that it is usually imposed only as a short-term measure. In order to have been removed from suicide watch, Epstein would have had to meet personally with a psychologist employed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the report added.
The Justice Department and William Barr oversee the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which is in charge of the facility that housed Epstein, who was being held on a series of new charges for underage sex trafficking. As the investigation into his death continues, there have already been consequences within the department. Barr removed the prison agency’s acting director and installed former director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer. The attorney general also reassigned the warden of the Metropolitan Correctional Center and placed two staffers who were assigned to the unit where Epstein was held on leave.
Barr said publicly that there were “serious irregularities” within the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a jail that falls under his control.
Reports indicated that Epstein was left alone for long stretches of time and that jail staff failed to properly conduct checks on his cell, even though he had recently been on suicide watch.
“Although Epstein is deceased, the department’s case against anyone who was complicit in his alleged crimes will continue,” the letter stated.
The media failed in the case of Jeffrey Epstein, over and over again. In the process, they re-victimized Epstein’s victims.
— Vicky Ward (@VickyPJWard) August 23, 2019
While the investigation into Epstein’s death continues, new details are emerging about the measures the billionaire reportedly took to keep the press at bay. As NPR reported, he was accused of trying to intimidate Vanity Fair Editor-in-Chief Graydon Carter as the magazine began investigating Epstein’s connections to Bill Clinton in early 2000. The magazine was also trying to pinpoint how he acquired his fortune, which remains largely a mystery even after his death.