Archives detail Jeffrey Epstein’s final days and the scramble for the prison system following his suicide

NEW YORK (AP) — Nearly four years after Jeffrey Epstein’s death, thousands of pages of documents obtained by The Associated Press shed new light on the financier’s time behind bars and the frantic response from officials of corrections upon his death.

The documents, including emails between prison officials and psychological evaluations, offer a fuller picture of Epstein as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges at the now closed Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Epstein killed himself in federal prison in 2019. In the days and weeks that followed, corrections officials struggled to explain how such a high-profile inmate managed to kill himself.

Records show how he was moved from general prison population to specialist accommodation and how he was briefly on suicide watch before being downgraded to psychiatric observation – his status when he took his own life.

Here are the takeaways from the more than 4,000 pages of material:

A RESTLESS INMATE

Epstein was anxious and despondent for much of his time in prison, prompting concern from prison guards and psychology experts about his mental state. He often complained about his life in prison, including poor sleep, constipation, the color of his uniform and the treatment he received from other inmates. The noise of the broken toilet in his cell left him sitting in a corner with his hands over his ears, according to a psychologist.

But despite his litany of complaints, Epstein insisted he would not kill himself. Even after he was discovered on the floor of his cell with a strip of sheet around his neck and placed on suicide watch for 31 hours, he denied contemplating suicide, which he said was against his religion. Jewish. Moreover, he added, he was a “coward” who did not like pain.

“He described having a ‘wonderful life,'” said a psychological evaluation. “He said ‘it would be crazy’ to kill himself. He added, ‘I wouldn’t do that to myself.’

A LETTER TO ANOTHER SEX OFFENDER

Among the new revelations was an attempt by Epstein to reach out to another notorious pedophile: Larry Nassar, the US gymnastics team doctor convicted of sexually abusing scores of young athletes.

A letter sent by Epstein to Nassar was found returned to sender in the prison’s mailroom weeks after Epstein’s death. “It looks like he mailed it and it was returned to him,” the investigator who found the letter told a corrections official via email. “I don’t know if I should open it or should we hand it to someone?”

The letter itself was not among the documents given to the AP, which also do not indicate what happened to the letter.

LAST PHONE CALL

Epstein was found dead on the morning of August 10, 2019. He had hanged himself with a sheet, according to the medical examiner. Hours earlier, he appears to have managed to fool the prison guards one last time, telling them he wanted to speak on the phone to his mother, who died 15 years ago.

A correctional officer escorted Epstein to a shower area around 7 p.m., where he was allowed to make a 15-minute “social call”. Reports later said he had phoned his 30-year-old girlfriend.

Weeks after his death, a prison guard questioned why an employee didn’t follow policy in allowing Epstein to make an unmonitored call.

Hurry to answer

The documents shed light on the hesitant response of corrections officials in the aftermath of Epstein’s death. In an email, a prosecutor involved in Epstein’s criminal case complained about the lack of information from the Bureau of Prisons in the critical hours after his death, writing that it was “frankly incredible” that the agency issues public press releases “before telling us basic information so that we can pass it on to his attorneys who can pass it on to his family.”

In another email, a senior Bureau of Prisons official made a spurious suggestion to the agency’s director that reporters must have paid prison workers to get information about Epstein’s death because they reported details of the agency’s failings – involving the ethics of journalists and the agency’s own workers.

THE FOLLOWING

Epstein’s death sparked an outpouring of anger at the Bureau of Prisons and questions about the operation of the Metropolitan Correctional Center. In an internal memo, officials blamed “seriously reduced staffing levels, improper or lack of training, and follow-up and monitoring” for the death.

Two guards who were supposed to watch Epstein the night he died were found to have falsified records, admitting to napping and browsing the internet instead of watching the high-level inmate.

The documents show other efforts to implement reforms, such as requiring prison captains to review footage to ensure guards complete their rounds every 30 minutes. Prison officials have said they will allow psychological experts to play a bigger role in determining how housing decisions are made.

In some ways, the officials may have overcorrected. A memo sent to the director of the Bureau of Prisons shortly after Epstein’s death warned that guards were “not leaving inmates on suicidal watch for longer than counseled by psychologists”.

In 2021, the Metropolitan Correctional Center had closed its doors. An investigation by the Inspector General of the Department of Justice is still ongoing.

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For more AP coverage of Jeffrey Epstein: https://apnews.com/hub/jeffrey-epstein

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