The AP has obtained new documents on the final hours of Jeffrey Epstein’s time in his Manhattan jail cell.
Two weeks before his demise, Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier accused of sex trafficking and conspiracy charges, found himself confined within the walls of a Manhattan jail cell. Unable to escape the relentless noise of a malfunctioning toilet, Epstein’s mental state deteriorated. In records recently obtained by The Associated Press, details of his agitated behavior and struggles behind bars have been revealed. The AP’s exhaustive investigation, spanning over four years, sheds light on Epstein’s detention, the chaotic aftermath of his death, and the systemic failures within the Bureau of Prisons. These documents, amounting to over 4,000 pages, provide the most comprehensive account of Epstein’s final days and dispel numerous conspiracy theories that surround his suicide.
Inside Epstein’s Desperate Struggle
Epstein could be found huddled in the corner of his Manhattan jail cell, with his hands covering his ears in an attempt to block out the constant sound of a malfunctioning toilet. The records obtained by The Associated Press reveal that Epstein was deeply agitated and unable to find solace in sleep. His luxurious life had been reduced to a cold, unyielding concrete cell.
Epstein’s mental state had been under psychological observation following a prior suicide attempt, just days before the documented period. His neck bore the marks of a bruise, a stark reminder of his vulnerability. However, even after spending 31 hours under suicide watch, Epstein vehemently denied any suicidal intentions. He spoke with a jail psychologist, asserting that he had a “wonderful life” and saw no reason to end it.
“He was still left in the same cell with a broken toilet,” the jail’s chief psychologist wrote in an email the next day. “Please move him to the cell next door when he returns from legal as the toilet still does not work.”
The documents obtained from the Bureau of Prisons provide a detailed reconstruction of the events leading up to Epstein’s suicide and shed light on his deteriorating mental health during his time in custody. They dispel numerous conspiracy theories surrounding his death and expose the fundamental failings within the Bureau of Prisons that contributed to this tragic outcome.
One email exchange between a prosecutor involved in Epstein’s case and the Bureau of Prisons reveals frustration over the lack of information provided by the agency in the crucial hours following Epstein’s death. The prosecutor expressed disbelief at the agency’s decision to issue public press releases before sharing basic information that could be relayed to Epstein’s attorneys and family.
Another email exposed a baseless suggestion made by a high-ranking Bureau of Prisons official, insinuating that news reporters must have been paying jail employees for information about Epstein’s death. This unsubstantiated accusation not only impugned the ethics of journalists but also cast doubt on the integrity of the agency’s own staff.
The obtained documents also shed light on Epstein’s behavior during his 36-day confinement, including an unreported attempt to correspond by mail with another notorious figure: Larry Nassar, the former U.S. gymnastics team doctor convicted of sexually abusing numerous athletes
Epstein’s unopened letter to Nassar, who spent decades sexually abusing young girls, was discovered in the mail room of the since-shuttered lockup with a “return to sender” notice weeks after his suicide
“It appeared he mailed it out and it was returned back to him,” the investigator who found the letter told a prison official by email. “I am not sure if I should open it or should we hand it over to anyone?”
As Epstein’s mental and emotional state worsened, he took a moment the night before his death to make a phone call to his family, excusing himself from a meeting with his lawyers. Astonishingly, he informed a jail employee that he was calling his deceased mother, who had passed away 15 years earlier. This detail underscores the depths of Epstein’s emotional distress and highlights the significant toll his incarceration had taken on his psyche
The Bureau of Prisons’ Failures Exposed
The documents obtained by the AP highlight glaring inadequacies within the Bureau of Prisons that ultimately contributed to Epstein’s death. Severe staffing shortages, improper training, and an overall lack of oversight are cited as the main culprits. An email from a prosecutor involved in Epstein’s case bemoans the agency’s failure to provide basic information promptly, hindering the flow of critical updates to Epstein’s legal team. Another email, written by a high-ranking Bureau of Prisons official, baselessly insinuates that journalists paid off jail employees for inside information about the agency’s missteps. Such claims only serve to further erode public trust in both the press and the Bureau of Prisons.
Epstein’s Death Triggers Chaos and Investigations
On August 10, 2019, Epstein was found dead in his cell, sparking widespread scrutiny of the Bureau of Prisons. The AP’s investigation not only exposed the failures leading to Epstein’s suicide but also prompted an examination of the Bureau itself. As a result, the Metropolitan Correctional Center was closed in 2021. An internal memo revealed a list of problems plaguing the jail, including reduced staffing levels and a lack of training and oversight. The Bureau of Prisons implemented measures to address these deficiencies, such as requiring supervisors to review surveillance footage to ensure officers conducted mandated cell checks.
Epstein’s Legal Battle and Mental Strain
Epstein’s mental state further deteriorated when a judge denied him bail on July 18, 2019. Facing the prospect of spending the rest of his life behind bars, Epstein’s outlook worsened. The unsealing of approximately
2,000 pages of documents in a sexual abuse lawsuit against him further exacerbated his already diminished status. The combination of the mounting legal pressure, the loss of his elevated status, and the idea of spending a lifetime in prison likely contributed to Epstein’s decision to take his own life.
Epstein’s Confinement Conditions and Health Concerns
Epstein’s confinement conditions and health issues are revealed in the obtained documents. After his arrival at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, Epstein spent 22 hours in the general population before being moved to the special housing unit due to media coverage and the notoriety surrounding his case. Epstein expressed dissatisfaction with having to wear the standard orange jumpsuit and complained about being treated like a “bad guy” despite his behavior in jail. He requested a brown uniform for his visits with his lawyers, seeking a semblance of normalcy.
During his initial health screening, it was disclosed that Epstein had multiple health problems, including sleep apnea, constipation, hypertension, lower back pain, and a history of chlamydia. These health issues likely added to his overall discomfort and may have further impacted his mental well-being during his time in custody.
Negligence and False Records by Jail Guards
The guards responsible for monitoring Epstein the night he took his life, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, faced charges of falsifying prison records to cover up their failure to conduct required checks. Prosecutors alleged that the guards were shirking their duties, spending time online shopping and wandering the unit instead of performing the mandated 30-minute rounds. Disturbingly, during a two-hour period, both guards appeared to have been asleep, a fact that emerged during the subsequent investigation.
Noel and Thomas admitted to fabricating log entries but avoided imprisonment through a deal with federal prosecutors. However, the incident shed light on the lack of accountability within the Bureau of Prisons and raised questions about the overall competence and integrity of the personnel entrusted with the care of inmates.
Ongoing Investigations and Reforms
The revelations surrounding Epstein’s death have prompted further investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general. This ongoing inquiry aims to uncover additional information and shed light on the circumstances surrounding Epstein’s suicide. The Bureau of Prisons, under increased scrutiny, has been forced to confront its deeply entrenched problems. The closure of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in 2021, where Epstein was held, represents a tangible step toward addressing the failings and systemic issues within the agency.
An internal memo, dated after Epstein’s death, acknowledges the serious deficiencies within the jail, including reduced staffing levels, inadequate training, and a lack of oversight. The Bureau of Prisons has implemented corrective measures to address these lapses, such as requiring supervisors to meticulously review surveillance footage to ensure compliance with cell check protocols.
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 within the agency, the Justice Department’s largest with more than 30,000 employees, 158,000 inmates and an $8 billion annual budget.