William Barr Removes Bureau of Prisons Director Over Epstein Death

An autopsy determined Jeffrey Epstein killed himself in federal custody.

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Attorney General William Barr reassigned the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons Monday, in yet another effort to clean up shop after accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein killed himself in federal custody.

Hugh Hurwitz, the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons, will now become the assistant director of the department’s criminal justice reentry programs. Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, who ran the agency from 1992 to 2003, will take the helm under Barr.


“Under Dr. Hawk Sawyer’s previous tenure at the Bureau, she led the agency with excellence, innovation, and efficiency, receiving numerous awards for her outstanding leadership,” Barr said in a statement.

READ: Bill Barr is making some changes at the jail where Epstein died

Already, Barr had ordered that the jail warden for the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City be temporarily reassigned to a regional office. Two jail staffers were also placed on paid leave after the 66-year-old Epstein died by suicide alone in his cell just a few weeks after he was briefly placed on suicide watch from another apparent attempt.

He was taken off suicide watch after the jail promised the Justice Department that he would receive a cellmate and more rigorous monitoring from staff.

READ: Here's what we know about the final hours of Jeffrey Epstein's life

Epstein was accused of trafficking and abusing dozens of teenage girls, and had been denied bail after he was arrested on charges of trafficking and conspiracy in July. He pleaded not guilty, and faced up to 45 years in prison.

Barr announced an investigation into Epstein’s death just hours after his body was discovered earlier this month. Both the FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general are probing the circumstances that could have led to his suicide. The Manhattan prison where Epstein died was reportedly severely understaffed, and Barr said he learned of “serious irregularities” there.

READ: Watch the FBI raid Jeffrey Epstein's "Pedophile Island"

The guards in Epstein’s unit reportedly failed to check on him frequently and were working overtime shifts, according to the Associated Press.

Cover: U.S. Attorney General William Barr speaks at the International Conference on Cyber Security at Fordham University School of Law on July 23, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)