- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 13, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

One of the two guards pressed into service to guard imprisoned sex offender Jeffrey Epstein during what turned out to be the final moments of his life wasn’t actually a regular guard at the facility, according to findings reported by The New York Times and The Associated Press.

That’s news that’s worthy of more than a passing glance.

Here’s the opener from the AP: “One of Jeffrey Epstein’s guards that night he hanged himself in his federal jail cell wasn’t a regular correctional officer, according to a person familiar with the detention center.”

The AP goes on to write, “A second person familiar with operations at the jail said one of the two people guarding Epstein in the hours before he was found with a bedsheet around his neck wasn’t a correctional officer, but a fill-in who had been pressed into service because of staffing shortfalls.”

The Manhattan facility was said to suffer from chronic staffing shortfalls — similar to that reported by prison systems around the nation. And it’s not clear to what extent the fill-in guard had security training.



But wouldn’t it seem sensible to make sure one of the prison world’s most notable inmates — the guy tied to so many high-profile and potentially explosive reports of underage sex crimes; the guy who could possibly name names — had more than ample surveillance? Cameras, well-trained regular guards, patrols and bed checks, the whole top-security shebang? Particularly when he had already tried to kill himself while in custody at least once?

“In Short-Staffed Jail, Epstein Was Left Alone for Hours; Guard Was Substitute,” is how The Times headlined it.

And from Fox News: “Jeffrey Epstein’s prison guards: 1 not a regular officer and both were working overtime, report says.”

Come on now, Feds.

This is not how you guard a guy.

Particularly when you know the conspiracy talk is lurking off-stage, just around the corner. And honestly, with guarding like that — who can cast blame?

“I’m not into conspiracy theories,” one Twitter user wrote, beneath a meme of former President Bill Clinton dressed as the substitute prison guard, “but this is super fishy.”

Clinton, for those who’ve been missing in action from the news feeds of late, is tied to the scandal by the number of trips he took with Epstein on his private jet to overseas’ locations and by the amount of private telephone numbers Epstein had for the former president — 21, by last count.

Perhaps it means nothing.

Perhaps Epstein and Clinton engaged in frequent secret telephone trades of Scriptures, as a way of keeping their spiritual selves refreshed and accountable. Who knows.

Epstein’s dead. He’s not speaking.

But social media is — and the twitterings are hardly subtle.

Epstein was murdered,” one wrote, in response to the AP story about the substitute prison guard. “Lots of people were involved in setting up the murder. Negligence & Incompetence over & over was/is impossible, but people intentionally violating all the rules to set up a murder is clearly what happened!”

Not clearly. Not clearly at all.

But there is one thing that’s clear: The prison could’ve done more to secure Epstein and ensure he wouldn’t die.

“It only takes three to five minutes for someone to hang themselves,” said Lindsay Hayes, an expert on suicide prevention behind bars, AP reported.

Three to five minutes. That’s a long, long time.

That’s a long, long time to turn a back on a guy with ties to the world’s top politicians, in jail for one of the world’s most despicable crimes, on alert as a possible suicide victim — caught once already in the act of trying to kill himself.

It’s not conspiracy to question. In fact, quite the opposite.

It’d be moronic, and dereliction of justice and truth, not to question.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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