We’re never gonna know.
Well … maybe not “never.” Cameras aren’t trained on inmates’ cells at MCC, per the Post, but they are trained on the hallways. If someone entered Epstein’s cell block to do him harm, his likeness should be on the footage somewhere.
Unless the Clintons perfected an invisibility cloak and gave it to their team of international assassins, in which case all bets are off.
There’s no surveillance video of the incident in which Jeffrey Epstein apparently hanged himself in a federal lockup in Lower Manhattan, law enforcement officials told The Post on Sunday.
Although there are cameras in the 9 South wing where the convicted pedophile was being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, they are trained on the areas outside the cells and not inside, according to sources familiar with the setup there.
Jazz already noted in an earlier post that the overworked guards on duty at MCC didn’t follow protocol by checking his cell every 30 minutes, as is required for inmates in the Special Housing Unit. But it wasn’t just one scheduled check that they missed; WaPo’s sources claim that “several” hours passed between look-ins on Epstein. Nor was that the only breach of protocol:
After he was removed from suicide watch at the end of July, Mr. Epstein had been downgraded to “special observation status,” which mandated guards check on him every 30 minutes and also required him to have a cellmate, a person familiar with the matter said.
Yet in the hours leading up to his death, it appears he had no cellmate and wasn’t receiving the required check, the person said. The cellmate had apparently left, possibly for a court appearance or another appointment, and was not quickly replaced as required by protocol, the person said.
Without both breaches of protocol, Epstein might be alive. If the guards had checked at the appointed time, they might have interrupted whatever was happening in his cell despite the fact that he had no cellmate. If he had had a cellmate, the cellmate might have alerted guards to a suicide attempt despite the fact that they weren’t checking on him at appointed times. Everything had to go right, or rather wrong, for Epstein to end up dead. Go figure.
This tweet on Saturday from a respected reporter at the Washington Post grabbed my eye:
People close to Epstein fear he was murdered…as Epstein told authorities someone tried to kill him in a previous incident weeks earlier. He was described as being in good spirits in recent days… https://t.co/J9QNSo1N2v
— Carol Leonnig (@CarolLeonnig) August 10, 2019
Epstein’s representatives were sufficiently concerned that they had their own forensic pathologist attend the autopsy to observe. The coroner’s conclusion: Inconclusive, for the moment.
Barbara Sampson, New York City’s chief medical examiner, said her office conducted an autopsy Sunday but had not yet reached a determination on cause of death “pending further information.” The medical examiner also allowed Michael Baden, a private pathologist, to observe the autopsy at the request of Epstein’s representatives, Sampson said.
Conspiracy theorizing on social media this weekend was rampant, up to and including the president of the United States — although, actually, that’s par for the course for both Twitter and for Trump. The only cohort that seems skeptical of foul play is … people who actually know how the federal prison system works. Defense attorney “Caroline Court” is the latest criminal lawyer to make the case that this outcome just isn’t that surprising for an institution like MCC:
The MCC has been notoriously understaffed for some time now. Inmates have reported that they have been locked in their cells all weekend because of staff shortages, and, as I tweeted, even weekend legal visits are sometimes canceled for the same reason.
Because of the short staff issues, corrections officers at the MCC often work double shifts. Was the corrections officer covering the SHU that morning in the middle of a double and perhaps fell asleep?…
I’ll add that mental health treatment in a jail setting is often woefully inadequate. So for someone who has experience with how bad it can be, it simply does not surprise me that this happened.
Complaints about guards at MCC being spread too thin are nothing new, added law prof John Pfaff:
5. And lest you say “how conveeeeenient,” here’s that same complaint, specifically about the MCC, made in 2018: https://t.co/E7984HJFd1.
This is nothing new. And it plagues the entire system. pic.twitter.com/UmocvkgzDA
— John Pfaff (@JohnFPfaff) August 12, 2019
Complaints about guards dehumanizing inmates in federal prison, even to the point of gambling on their suicide odds, also aren’t unheard of, he added. Ken White, a former assistant U.S. Attorney turned criminal defense lawyer, made all of those same points over the weekend when Epstein conspiracy mania was in full flower, stressing that you simply can’t bet against the callousness and incompetence of administrators and staff as an explanation when catastrophe results at a federal prison. To which all I’d say is this: Wouldn’t the guards have thought to give Epstein extra attention purely for the sake of keeping heat off themselves in case he turned up dead? White scoffed at that theory in his weekend thread, claiming that only “gullible dipsh*ts” would believe that law enforcement might suffer consequences for a death on their shift, but most inmate deaths don’t draw an angry statement from the Attorney General in the immediate aftermath and white-hot media attention to the circumstances of their negligence. The guards must have anticipated how suspicious Epstein dying in their care would look and how irate the public would be. He was no ordinary prisoner. They got caught napping anyway. Why?