Bureau of Prisons Chief Is Removed in the Wake of Jeffrey Epstein's Suicide

The Bureau of Prisons' top official was removed by Attorney General William Barr on Monday, the Justice Department said, in the wake of Jeffrey Epstein's suicide earlier this month. In a statement reported by CNN, Barr said the acting head of the bureau, Hugh Hurwitz, who had served in the acting position since last year, would return to the assistant director position he formerly occupied.

The new director will be Dr. Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, who led the bureau from 1992 to 2003, Barr said, adding that he was "appalled" and "angry" to learn of Epstein's suicide and cited "serious irregularities" at the Manhattan facility where Epstein had been detained.

Hurwitz's removal is just the latest in shakeups at the Metropolitan Correctional Center after Barr announced last week that the facility's warden would be reassigned while the FBI and Justice Department's inspector general investigated the conditions leading up to the suicide.

Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons also placed two Metropolitan Correctional Center staffers on leave, pending an investigation.

In the days after Epstein was found dead in his cell, reports surfaced that at least one of the two employees on duty in Epstein's unit was not part of the regular detention workforce but was filling in as a guard, and Epstein had not been checked on for hours before his apparent hanging, CNN reports. Guards are reportedly supposed to check on an inmate in the facility's special housing unit, where Epstein was being held, every 30 minutes.

On Friday, the medical examiner's office officially ruled Epstein's death a suicide. Speculation and conspiracy theories have swirled as to whether or not foul play was involved in his death.

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Ahead of the official ruling, the medical examiner issued a report including specifics of Epstein's death, including broken bones in his neck that could be consistent with a hanging death. Forensics experts also told journalists that those broken bones could also be found in victims who died from being strangled.

At the time of his death, Epstein had been in jail since early July awaiting trial on federal charges accusing him of operating a sex trafficking ring from 2002 to 2005 at his Manhattan mansion and his Palm Beach estate in which he allegedly paid girls as young as 14 for sex. He plead not guilty.

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