NEW YORK – Two weeks before he took his own life, Jeffrey Epstein sat with his hands on his ears in the corner his Manhattan jail cell, trying to drown out the sound of a toilet running nonstop.
The Associated Press has obtained new records that show Epstein to be agitated and unable sleep. Epstein called himself “a coward” and said he struggled to adapt to his new life behind bars after his arrest in July 2019 on federal charges of sex-trafficking and conspiracy. His life of luxury was reduced to a concrete cage.
At the time, Epstein was being observed for psychological reasons after a failed suicide attempt that had left him with bruising and scratches on his neck. Epstein, despite a 31 hour stint on suicide-watch, insisted that he was not suicidal. He told a prison psychologist he lived a “wonderful” life and it would be “crazy” to end.
Epstein died on August 10, 2019. Epstein died on August 10, 2019.
The AP obtained nearly four years after Epstein’s suicide, more than 4,000 documents from the federal Bureau of Prisons. These documents were released under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents include a detailed psychoanalytic reconstruction, his health history, agency reports, emails and memos, as well other records.
The documents obtained by the AP on Thursday are the most comprehensive account to date of Epstein’s detention, death and chaotic aftermath. These records dispel many of the conspiracy theories that surround Epstein’s suicide. They also highlight how the Bureau of Prisons, with its severe staffing shortages, and the employees who cut corners contributed to Epstein’s death.
These documents shed light on the confusion of the federal prison system’s response when Epstein, who was found unconscious in his cell in the now closed Metropolitan Correctional Center located in New York City, was discovered.
In an email, a prosecutor who was involved in Epstein’s criminal case complained that there was a lack of communication from the Bureau of Prisons during the crucial hours following his death. He wrote that it was “truly unbelievable” that the agency issued public press releases before providing us with basic information “so that we could relay it to Epstein’s attorneys, who can then relay it to Epstein’s family.”
A high-ranking Bureau of Prisons employee made the spurious suggestion in an email to the director of the agency that journalists must have paid jail employees for information on Epstein’s murder because they reported details of the agency’s failures. This was a slanderous accusation against the ethics of both journalists and agency workers.
The documents provide an insight into Epstein’s behavior while he was in prison, including his attempt to contact another high-profile pedophile via mail: Larry Nassar, the U.S. Gymnastics Team doctor who has been convicted of sexually assaulting scores of athletes.
The prison’s mailroom found Epstein’s return-to-sender letter to Nassar, weeks after Epstein died. The investigator who discovered the letter told an official in prison by email that it appeared Epstein had mailed the letter and it had been returned to him. “I’m not sure if we should give it to someone or open it,” the investigator who found it told a prison official by email.
The letter was not among the documents that were provided to AP.
Epstein called his family the night before he died. A memo from an Epstein unit manager states that Epstein informed a jail worker that he called his mother who had been dead 15 years.
The death of Epstein increased scrutiny of the Bureau of Prisons, which led to the closure of the Metropolitan Correctional Center by 2021. The AP conducted an investigation which revealed previously unknown problems at the largest agency of the Justice Department, with over 30,000 employees and 158,000 inmates, as well as an $8 billion budget.
Undated but sent shortly after Epstein died, an internal memo attributed jail problems to “seriously decreased staffing levels, improper training and lack of oversight.” It also described steps taken by the Bureau of Prisons to correct lapses Epstein’s suicide revealed, such as requiring supervisors review surveillance videos to ensure that officers performed required cell checks.
Martin Weinberg said that people held at the facility were subjected to “medieval confinement conditions” which no American defendant would have tolerated.
Weinberg, in a Thursday phone interview, said: “It is sad and tragic that this type of event was required to force the Bureau of Prisons finally to close this regrettable facility.”
Tova Noel, and Michael Thomas were accused of lying in prison records so that it appeared as though they’d done their checks before Epstein died. Epstein’s cellmate failed to return from a court appearance the day before and prison officials did not pair him with another prisoner, leaving him all alone.
The prosecutors claimed that they sat at their desks only 15 feet away from Epstein’s prison cell. They also said that they shopped for motorcycles and furniture online, and did not make the required 30 minute rounds.
According to their indictment, during a two-hour time period both appeared to be asleep. Noel Thomas both admitted to falsifying log entries, but were spared prison under an agreement with federal prosecutors. The documents released on Thursday included copies of these logs, but with the guards’ signatures removed.
A second investigation by the inspector general of the Justice Department is still underway.
Epstein arrived at Metropolitan Correctional Center, on July 6, 2019. According to his psychological analysis, Epstein spent 22 hours with the general population of the jail before being moved to a special housing unit. This was due to “the significant increase in media attention and awareness among inmates of his notoriety.”
Epstein said later that he had been upset by having to wear the orange jumpsuits provided to inmates of the special housing unit. He also complained about being treated as a “bad boy” despite his good behavior behind bars. He asked for a brown uniform to wear during his daily visits with his attorneys.
During a health screening, the man aged 66 admitted to having had more than 10 female sexual partners in the past five years. His medical records revealed that he suffered from sleep apnea and constipation. He also had hypertension, lower-back pain, and preediabetes.
The records reveal that Epstein made some efforts to adapt to the jailhouse environment. Epstein signed up for a Kosher dinner and informed prison officials through his lawyer that he wanted to exercise outdoors. Epstein purchased items worth $73.85 from the prison commissary two days before his death, including headphones and an AM/FM Radio. When he died, he had $566 in his account.
Epstein’s situation worsened after a judge refused him bail on 18 July 2019. This increased the likelihood that he would remain in prison until his trial, and possibly even longer. He could face up to 45-years in prison if convicted. Epstein was discovered on the floor of his prison cell four days later with a bedsheet wrapped around his neck.
Epstein survived. Epstein’s injuries did not require him to go to hospital. He was put on suicide watch, and later psychiatric observations. In logs , jail officers recorded that they had observed him “sitting on the edge of his bed, lost in thoughts,” and “with his face against the wall.”
Epstein was frustrated by the noise in the jail, and the lack of sleep. Epstein’s sleep apnea respirator was not available to him during his first weeks at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. His toilet started to malfunction.
The jail’s chief psychiatrist wrote the following day that “he was still in the same cell, with a broken bathroom.” Please move him to the next cell when he returns after legal, as the toilet is still not working.
A federal judge unveiled about 2,000 documents from a lawsuit filed against Epstein for sexual abuse the day before he took his own life. Prison officials noted that this development further undermined Epstein’s previously elevated status.
Officials wrote that this, along with the lack of meaningful interpersonal connections and “the thought of possibly spending his entire life in prison” were factors likely to have contributed to Mr. Epstein’s suicide.