The Justice Department acknowledges that a psychologist working in the New York federal detention center where disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein was held had approved his removal from a suicide watch list prior to his death.
Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell on August 10 in the the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, where he was being held pending trial on sex trafficking charges. A subsequent autopsy determined that he had hanged himself.
In July he had been found unconscious on the floor of his cell, prompting the suicide-watch measures.
In a three-page letter from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd to the leaders of the House Judiciary Committee, Boyd confirmed that Epstein had been placed on suicide watch after the July incident.
"Mr. Epstein was later removed from suicide watch after being evaluated by a doctoral-level psychologist who determined that a suicide watch was no longer warranted," Boyd wrote.
In the wake of Epstein's death, Attorney General William Barr said there had been "serious irregularities" at the MCC, which is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It is a unit of the Justice Department and under Barr's authority. Barr also blamed the MCC facility staff for failing to "adequately secure the prisoner." Barr reassigned the facility's warden and placed two guards who were responsible for watching Epstein on administrative leave.