The Justice Department will shut down the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan “at least temporarily” to deal with problems including security breakdowns and aging infrastructure after the prison came under scrutiny following the death of Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier who committed suicide there in 2019 while awaiting trial.
The department said it would shut the jail, dubbed by the media as “Guantanamo of New York,” in order to address issues at MCC NY “quickly and efficiently,” in a written statement to the Associated Press.
The jail is currently holding 233 inmates, according to AP, most of whom will likely be sent to a federal jail in Brooklyn.
It wasn’t specified when the jail will shut or for how long.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.
Epstein died by suicide in August 2019 while being held at MCC NY while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. His death was met by outrage and criticism of the jail for allowing him to die, along with conspiracy theories that speculated Epstein was actually murdered on the orders of one of his many powerful former friends. Two guards who were on duty on Epstein’s unit during his suicide later admitted in court they “willfully and knowingly” falsified documents following the sex offender’s death. Prosecutors said the two men instead were sleeping and browsing the internet. In May, the two avoided prosecutions and jail time through deferred prosecution agreements. If they serve six months of supervised release, cooperate with investigators and perform community service, the government can dismiss the charges. Since Epstein’s death, MCC NY has been slammed for other alleged security and safety failings, with a handgun and other dangerous weapons found inside the facility last year, a lack of social distancing and basic pandemic safety necessities like face masks and hand soap and reports of sexual misconduct among staff members, according to AP.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.
US closing troubled NYC jail where Epstein killed himself (Associated Press)