The Department of Justice has reassigned the warden who oversees the Metropolitan Correctional Center while it investigates the death of financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who allegedly hung himself at MCC on Saturday morning. Two correction officers were also placed on leave pending the investigation.
According to the Times, the two officers were stationed in the Segregated Housing Unit where Epstein was being held pending his trial on charges of sexually assaulting and trafficking dozens of girls and young women. One of them was not even an actual correction officer, but a prison employee "pressed into service as a guard because of a staff shortage."
Epstein, who had been put on suicide watch last month and then taken off 12 days before his death, was found in his cell around 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. The officers were supposed to check on Epstein every half-hour, but failed to do so, the Times has reported.
The warden, Lamine N'Diaye, will now work out of the Bureau of Prisons' regional office, according to the paper. The two guards have not been named, and it's unclear if either are on paid or unpaid leave.
The Justice Department has not responded to our requests for comment.
Serene Gregg, president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3148, the union that represents the correction officers who who at MCC, told The Chief that guards are being forced to work three or four double shifts every week.
“This overtime is mandatory because there is no one to relieve you,” Gregg told that paper. “This is just basic math. You work 16 hours, and we know we can’t afford to live in Manhattan, so your’re driving an hour to work and an hour home. How long are you going to get to sleep and be with your family?”
Attorney General William Barr has ordered an investigation into Epstein's death at MCC, where inmates have been exposed to inhumane conditions for years, as Gothamist has reported.
Two women held at MCC this past spring told Gothamist that they were denied medical care, and that their toilets overflowed with sewage.
“Toilet waste and feces were all over the floors of all the cells, common area, and other departments on the floor and the female inmates were the ones who had to clean it all up without proper equipment,” one detainee said.