At least eight U.S. Bureau of Prisons staffers knew that strict instructions had been given not to leave sex offender Jeffrey Epstein alone in his cell, yet the order was apparently ignored in the 24 hours leading up to his death, the Washington Post reports. The fact that so many prison officials were aware of the directive, including supervisors, has alarmed investigators assessing what so far appears to be a stunning failure to follow instructions. Investigators suspect that at least some staffers knew Epstein had been left alone in a cell before he died. Disregard for the instruction does not necessarily mean there was criminal conduct. The explanation could be bureaucratic incompetence spanning multiple individuals and ranks within the organization.
“It’s perplexing,” said Robert Hood, a former warden at the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Co. “If people were given instructions that Epstein should not be left alone, I don’t understand how they were not followed.” Hood, who also once served as the Bureau of Prisons’ chief of internal affairs, said it was disconcerting that officials might have thought they were putting Epstein on a less-intensive form of suicide watch. “You’re either on suicide watch or you’re not. If you have any concern at all, you maintain the suicide watch,” he said. Epstein, 66, was found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center during the on Aug. 10. Epstein hanged himself using a bedsheet fastened to his bunk bed. The circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death are being investigated by the FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general. Attorney General William Barr said Wednesday that the investigation is “well along,” adding, “I think I’ll soon be in a position to report to Congress and the public the results.”