Jeffrey Epstein: tortured to death in New York’s gulag
Tuesday, 13 August 2019 () The New York Post invites readers to “Meet Jeffrey Epstein’s gang of accused slave ‘recruiters’”. Alleged. Nothing proven. Just to be certain of this: whatever the conspiracy theories surrounding Epstein’s untimely death, innocence must always be presumed. That goes for Epstein, too. The depraved convicted paedophile had pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges. He died in an apparent suicide before taking the stand. We can say what we like about him now that he’s dead, engage in mental gymnastics that lightly skip over barriers to justice. But we cannot know for certain if he was guilty.
We can look for facts. The obvious one is the kick over the dead body at New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center. The latest is that guards were so overworked they might have not had time to check on their very high-profile suicided risk. Serene Gregg, president of the AFGE Local 3148, tells the Washington Post newspaper: “If it wasn’t Mr Epstein, it would have been somebody else, because of the conditions at that institution. It was only a matter of time for it to happen. It was inevitable. Our staff is severely overworked.”
Only, it was Mr Epstein. It was not somebody else. But surely this is the time to investigate the leading cause of jail deaths. People in jail are seven times more likely to take their own lives than those housed in prisons. The U.S. Department of Justice said “two primary causes for jail suicide exist: (1) jail environments are conducive to suicidal behavior and (2) the inmate is facing a crisis situation. From the inmate’s perspective, certain features of the jail environment enhance suicidal behavior: fear of the unknown, distrust of an authoritarian environment, perceived lack of control over the future, isolation from family and significant others, shame of incarceration, and perceived dehumanizing aspects of incarceration.”
The World Health Organization notes: “A period of risk for pre-trial inmates is near the time of a court appearance, especially when a guilty verdict and harsh sentencing may be anticipated. A great deal of all jail suicides occurred within three days of a court appearance.”
The jail was built to accommodate 474 inmates, but held 763 male prisoners at the time of Epstein’s death, according to a statement from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Prisoners have described seeing large rats in their cells, air conditioner units so noisy it is impossible to sleep, and absence of any natural light or sanitary water.
In a special jail-within-a-jail called 10 South, alleged terrorists, mobsters and drug kingpins are subject to some of the most brutal conditions of solitary confinement in the nation. This extreme isolation, reserved for those charged with the most heinous crimes, was described as “a punitive measure that is unworthy of the United States as a civilized democracy,” according to a former special monitor on torture and punishment for the United Nations who investigated the case of one prisoner held there for three years.
Jeanne Theoharis is a Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College who has written extensively about conditions at MCC.
“If I described these conditions to you—filthy, freezing, no natural light, isolation so extreme that you’re punished for speaking through the walls, absurd rules like prisoners not getting to see the newspapers unless they’re 30 days old, secrecy so deep that people are force-fed and lawyers can be punished for describing the conditions their clients are experiencing—you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was Iran or Russia,” she said.
“But in fact this gulag exists right here in lower Manhattan.”