The acting Bureau of Prisons chief has been removed just over a week after Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell of an apparent suicide.
According to NBC News, U.S. Attorney General William Barr confirmed that he removed Hugh Hurwitz, the acting director of the federal agency, from his position. Hurwitz will continue in the agency as assistant director of the department’s Reentry Services Division.
Barr released a statement announcing the Hurwtiz will be replaced by Dr. Kathleen Hawk Sawyer and that Dr. Thomas R. Kane will be the new deputy director. The statement did not specifically address Epstein’s death, NBC News notes, but Barr had previously called for an investigation into the “serious irregularities” of Epstein’s detention in the days and hours leading up to his death.
Epstein was placed on suicide watch following a July 23 incident in which he was found injured in his cell from a possible suicide attempt. He was taken off suicide watch just six days later, and placed in a special housing unit where protocol required that he have a cell mate and that guards check on him every 30 minutes. But his cell mate had been transferred out the day before his death, according to multiple reports, and had not been replaced. Two guards assigned to check on Epstein failed to do so for three hours before he was found dead in the early morning hours of August 10, and may have falsified logs claiming they checked on him when they did not.
On Friday, the New York City Chief Medical Examiner announced her conclusion that Epstein died of a suicide by hanging. Epstein’s legal team has challenged this conclusion and is reportedly seeing video footage of the area outside Epstein’s cell.
Epstein was awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges when he died.