Former Head of New York Jails, NYPD Explains Failures That Allowed Epstein’s Death

August 13, 2019 Updated: August 14, 2019

The death of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was enabled by a failure on the part authorities responsible for his detention, according to Bernard Kerik, who served as head of New York City’s jail system before becoming the city’s police commissioner.

Kerik affirmed the official statement that Epstein apparently committed suicide in his detention cell and noted that he had predicted that Epstein would do so.

Based on what unidentified law enforcement sources have told media outlets, Kerik’s prediction came true down to the specific method Epstein would use. Still, the authorities didn’t take necessary steps to prevent it.

“If they want to keep you alive, I promise you, they keep you alive,” he told The Epoch Times in a phone call.

Kerik led the NYC Department of Correction from 1998 to 2000 and the city’s police department from 2000 to 2001. He also served eight months in federal prison after pleading guilty to tax fraud and making false statements. Before his sentencing, he was held in solitary confinement for 60 days in the same high-security housing unit as Epstein, in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.


Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell on the morning of Aug. 10 and was later pronounced dead in a hospital.

He was reportedly put on suicide watch in the protective custody wing of the federal detention facility after an apparent suicide attempt between July 23 and 24. Later, he was reportedly taken off suicide watch and his cellmate was transferred out, leaving Epstein in de facto solitary confinement.

Under these conditions, his suicide was predictable, according to Kerik.

Solitary confinement eats at an inmate’s psyche in ways hard to imagine for someone who hasn’t had such an experience, Kerik said, recalling his own time in such a cell. There’s little to do in an 8-by-15-foot space with no reading materials except a Bible.

“You know what you do? You count the cracks in the wall. You count the springs in the bunk bed above you,” Kerik said.

“You do everything in your power to keep your mind occupied, but your mind keeps floating back to, basically, ‘I’m [expletive].’”

Eventually, the person realizes that he’s going crazy.

“You wake up talking to yourself, or you go into a trance,” Kerik said. “Yeah, you realize it.”

The severity of the effects depends on the person—for some, the mental deterioration begins quickly. In Kerik’s estimation, Epstein wouldn’t have been particularly resilient to such a situation. “I can’t see Epstein being a tough guy,” he said.

The contrast between Epstein’s apparently hedonistic lifestyle and the austerity of his prison existence would likely worsen the shock.

Epstein’s lawyers appealed the decision to deny him bail, but the appeal had a high legal bar to clear and Epstein may have been aware of that. He was looking at spending the rest of his life in prison, where pedophiles are known to receive the harshest treatment from fellow inmates.

“That guy is going to be depressed,” Kerik said. “That guy is going to look at this as hopeless.”


Epstein reportedly used a bed sheet to hang himself, which is what Kerik predicted, explaining in detail what the cell looks like, how the inmate would usually tie the sheet to the top of the 5-foot bunk bed, and how the inmate would then suffocate himself.

“I’ve seen it done dozens of times,” Kerik said.

Suicides in prison are common and hard to prevent, according to Kerik. He had a case in Manhattan in which an inmate strangled himself with his own socks. Another suffocated himself by eating a plastic bag.

Still, there are ways to prevent suicide, especially if the person is as prominent as Epstein.

Kerik said that holding Epstein in that type of cell wasn’t compatible with a proper suicide watch. A supervisor should have been detailed to go by his cell every 10 minutes, instead of the normal 30 minutes.

Even the 30-minute interval reportedly wasn’t followed on the night before Epstein’s death, but it only takes about 10 minutes to prepare the bedsheet and to suffocate oneself, so 30 minutes would have been too long anyway, Kerik said.

Another precaution could have been to place Epstein in a cell outside the officers’ stations, so he would be under constant surveillance. The authorities also could have asked the court to put a camera in his cell.

The risks surrounding Epstein were “just ignored,” Kerik said.

The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York are investigating Epstein’s death. Attorney General William Barr said that there were “serious irregularities” at the facility holding Epstein, and that he asked the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate the matter.

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