Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide Saturday morning inside a New York federal prison is raising several questions and none bigger than the role of the guards assigned to protect the high-profile inmate awaiting trial on sexual abuse and conspiracy charges.
The New York Times reporting Monday night that one of the two guards assigned to keep watch on Epstein was not a full-fledged correctional officer and that neither guard had checked on Epstein for several hours before his body was discovered.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr has promised a full investigation into the federal jail’s failure to adequately monitor Epstein.
Epstein was supposed to be receiving extra-care after an apparent suicide attempt two weeks ago. Several accounts have emerged since Epstein’s death about the working conditions and the extended overtime guards were forced to endure at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC).
The average salary for a correctional officer inside of a Federal Bureau of Prisons facility — such as the MCC where Epstein was held — is on average $52,481.00 per year or roughly $25.23 per hour according to Payscale.com
The officers guarding Epstein, 66, were working extreme overtime according to a source speaking to The Associated Press. At least one of the officers was on his fifth straight day of overtime while another was working mandatory overtime to compensate for the staffing shortage on the morning of Epstein’s demise.
Several workers at MCC are forced to work almost twice as long as typical 40 hour work weeks, with some officers seeing 60 to 70 hours per workweek according to Serene Gregg, the president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3148, who spoke with the Washington Post.
“Our staff is severely overworked,” explained Gregg. “It wasn’t a matter of how it happened or it happening, but it was only a matter of time for it to happen. It was inevitable.”
The Federal Bureau of Prisons is so anxious to solve its worker and overtime problems at the MCC that it recently advertised a job fair online offering a, “10% incentive bonus for Correctional Officers hired, and on-board, before Sept. 30th, 2019.”
After pleading not guilty, Epstein was awaiting trial and looking at up to 45 years behind bars for the federal sex trafficking and various charges which were unsealed last month.