by Harry Wilmerding
Authorities on Thursday announced they plan to shut down a federal jail in New York City where alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein died in 2019.
Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in lower Manhattan, apparently due to suicide, The New York Times reported. The prison guards were later accused of sleeping and surfing the internet while on duty.
The decision to temporarily shut down the prison comes just weeks after deputy attorney general Lisa O. Monaco visited the jail to witness day-to-day operations, according to the NYT.
NEW: DOJ announces the federal jail in Manhattan where Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide is closing – “at least temporarily” – to address issues . pic.twitter.com/G3NxI4rooj
— Pervaiz Shallwani (@Pervaizistan) August 26, 2021
Inmates have criticized the prison’s condition, lawyers and judges, the NYT reported. The jail’s current population is 233, and most prisoners are awaiting trial.
“It’s cramped, dark and unsanitary. The building is falling apart. Chronic shortages of medical staff mean that people suffer for long periods of time when they have urgent medical issues,” David E. Patton, the attorney in chief at Federal Defenders of New York, told the Times.
“In an effort to address the issues at MCC NY as quickly and efficiently as possible, the Department has decided to close the MCC, at least temporarily, until those issues have been resolved,” a Department of Justice spokesperson said in a statement obtained by the New York Times. “Planning for the deactivation is under way, and we will have more updates as the process continues.”
It is unclear where the prisoners will be transferred. One option would be federal jails in the area, including the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn and a federal prison in Otisville, the Times reported.
The jail was also the temporary home for other high-profile mobsters, terrorists and drug traffickers, including the Mexican drug Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known as El Chapo.
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Harry Wilmerding is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.