Epstein’s death: careless or calculated?`

Santa Ana police officers comment on the Jeffrey Epstein case.

Genesis Lopez

Santa Ana police officers comment on the Jeffrey Epstein case.

By Génesis López, News Editor

Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in the early morning hours of August 10, less than 24 hours after a plentitude of incriminating legal documents had been made public, containing explicit details regarding his alleged abuse of many underage girls, as well as implicating a network of powerful wealthy men Epstein was once associated with. 

According to New York Times reports and statements from the MCC, Epstein was officially placed on suicide watch on July 23 after he had been found semiconscious on the floor of his cell with marks around his neck, in what appeared to be his second suicidal attempt in the span of a few weeks. However, six days after the apparent attempt, Epstein was removed from suicide watch by a doctoral-level psychologist from the MCC. He was supposed to be checked every half an hour, but the prison guards assigned to him “fell asleep” and failed to check on Epstein until nearly four hours after their scheduled time.  Additionally, the two specific cameras that were pointed in the direction of Epstein’s cell suffered an unusual glitch that night, and the footage was flawed and deemed unusable (all other cameras worked perfectly). Reports and time stamps were falsified by the prison’s guards, and when questioned by the police, they refused to cooperate. CNN reports disclose that staff working that night have been subpoenaed for a possible criminal Grand Jury investigation into what really happened that night and the mismanagement of the prison. 

Retired Santa Ana Police Department officer of over 20 years Rufus Tanksley Jr. commented on the mismanagement of the prison: “You have to think about the whole situation… I think there was lax in the jail because he was a one percenter and they thought they didn’t have to worry about him… They got lazy, didn’t check on him, and he killed himself. That kind of behavior is unacceptable in a prison.” 

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has a specific protocol that must be followed when an inmate is placed on suicide watch, or recently taken off. First and foremost, in order to be taken off suicide watch, inmates are to be evaluated by a designated Federal Bureau of Prisons psychologist, not a lower-level psychologist from any given prison. Additionally, there are certain guidelines that must be followed for these special, high-profile, suicide-watch inmates; they are not allowed to be in posession of anything that can be used as a weapon against themselves or anyone else. Epstein, whose weapon of death was a bedsheet, was never supposed to have access to it in the first place.

 Former SAPD prison guard of 10 years Marlyn Cendejas commented on the protocol when an inmate is placed on suicide watch: “At the SAPD jail, he was to be housed by himself in a cell with nothing but a mattress on the floor. We would place a suicide watch log on the door and as a guard you were to go and physically check that the inmate is still breathing every half hour on the dot. You were in charge of that person’s custody, therefore, you were in charge of his or her welfare.” 

The failure to follow protocol, the extensive mismanagement by the prison, and the prominence of the other people involved in Epstein’s sex trafficking allegations have certainly sparked speculation that his death could have been a homicide. A letter from the Justice Department stated that the chief medical examiner of New York has officially ruled the death a suicide, but Epstein’s legal team is unsatisfied with his findings since an unusual amount of broken bones were found in his neck along with some other small irregularities, and they are embarking on their own possibly homicidal investigation. 

Attorney General William Barr has publicly removed the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Jail Warden of the MCC, the psychologist who declared Epstein off suicide watch, and certain guards that were working that night indefinitely. 

Ex-officer Cendejas leaves us with one final thought. “No matter the high profile, or the bum on the street, if you were convicted of a crime, at the end of the day the guy without his millions is no one. There’s no excuse for a corrupt system. This sets a bad precedent for future guards… At the end of the day, a life was taken, and if foul play was involved, Epstein ultimately deserves justice, and it’s ironic because the people that he victimized will never have that.”