Cynics vindicated: video footage outside Epstein’s cell deemed ‘unusable’

Many cynics predicted that surveillance video outside of Jeffrey Epstein’s cell would somehow be unavailable for review.  Now they have been at least partially vindicated, as the Washington Post reports (non-paywall version here) that a video camera outside the cell where Jeffrey Epstein was found dead of hanging produced footage that has been termed “unusable” by investigators.  

At least one camera in the hallway outside the cell where authorities say registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein killed himself earlier this monthhad footage that is unusable, although other, clearer footage was captured in the area, according to three people briefed on the evidence gathered earlier this month.

In order to evaluate this, we would need a diagram of the floor of the Metropolitan Correctional Center showing the location and coverage area of each camera. If it turns out that the actual entrance to Epstein’s cell is not covered, that is exceedingly suspicious. The question then becomes would anyone be able to access that doorway without being observed by the functioning cameras.

There are no details now available about the nature of the flaw, whether the camera was not functional for an extended period, or just for a limited time surrounding the death of Epstein.

The Post reports that the FBI and DoJ Inspector General are both investigating.

So, Epstein’s death has been companied by a series of errors: left alone in a cell following a quick (and evidently mistaken, if we believe the suicide story) suspension of his suicide watch, given a normal bedsheet when he should have had a flimsy paper one that could not be used for hanging, and the failure of guards to check on him every 15 minutes.

Occam’s Razor still suggests that incompetence and short staffing maybe at the root of these amazing coincidences. But for the highest-profile prisoner in the federal Bureau of Prisons, such coincidences are mind-boggling.

AG William Barr’s expressed intention to restore the public’s faith in the justice system is looking more and more difficult.

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