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Jeffrey Epstein’s Death Sheds Light On Prison System Failures

Nearly four years after Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his prison cell, more than 4,000 pages of federal Bureau of Prisons documents related to his death obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that he was under psychological observation at the time for a suicide attempt just days earlier that left his neck bruised and scraped, the Associated Press reports. He called himself a “coward” and complained he was struggling to adapt to life behind bars after his 2019 arrest on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges — his life of luxury reduced to a concrete and steel cage. Even after a 31-hour stint on suicide watch, Epstein insisted he wasn’t suicidal, telling a jail psychologist he had a “wonderful life” and “would be crazy” to end it.

Taken together, the documents the AP obtained Thursday provide the most complete accounting to date of Epstein’s detention and death, and its chaotic aftermath. The records help to dispel conspiracy theories surrounding Epstein’s suicide, underscoring how fundamental failings at the Bureau of Prisons — including severe staffing shortages and employees cutting corners — contributed to Epstein’s death. The night before Epstein’s death, he excused himself from a meeting with his lawyers to make a telephone call to his family. Epstein told a jail employee that he was calling his mother, who’d been dead for 15 years at that point. Epstein’s death put increased scrutiny on the Bureau of Prisons and led the agency to close the Metropolitan Correctional Center in 2021. It spurred an AP investigation that has uncovered deep, previously unreported problems in the agency, the Justice Department’s largest with more than 30,000 employees, 158,000 inmates and an $8 billion annual budget.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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