In the wake of Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide this weekend, it’s unclear what will happen to the investigation into a massive global sex trafficking ring that allegedly involved a number of powerful people. Also unclear: whether Epstein’s victims will ever see an iota of justice. But there’s a nagging question of how Epstein managed to die by suicide, while under watch—one that’s spawned a number of conspiracy theories, and highlights serious inadequacies in our nation’s jails.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that though Epstein was placed on suicide watch at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center following an alleged suicide attempt a few weeks ago, he was removed from that watch recently. Epstein was still supposed to be watched regularly, however, yet the Times found that protocol was not observed the night before he was found dead in his cell:
Mr. Epstein was supposed to have been checked by the two guards in the protective housing unit every 30 minutes, but that procedure was not followed that night, a law-enforcement official with knowledge of his detention said.
In addition, because Mr. Epstein may have tried to commit suicide three weeks earlier, he was supposed to have had another inmate in his cell, three officials said. But the jail had recently transferred his cellmate and allowed Mr. Epstein to be housed alone, a decision that also violated the jail’s procedures, the two officials said.
That’s troubling enough, but later on Sunday, the Associated Press reported that the two guards tasked with monitoring Epstein had been working “extreme” overtime shifts thanks to staffing shortages at the facility, with one of those guards working “a fifth straight day of overtime.”
There is also reportedly no video of Epstein’s apparent suicide, which will do nothing to quell the conspiracy theorists, Donald Trump leading the charge. The New York Post reports that though there are surveillance cameras in the section of MCC where Epstein was being held, they are not focused on the cells.
So, here we are, with no proof and little justice. On the bright side, though the criminal case against Epstein dies with him, the civil suits will continue, and the Southern District of New York is expected to continue its investigation into a sex trafficking ring that allegedly included people as powerful as Prince Andrew, Duke of York and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.