Barr removes prisons chief after Epstein death

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham Barr DOJ says surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Page lacked evidence Senators press DHS over visa approval for Pensacola naval base shooter Democrats sharpen case on second day of arguments MORE on Monday announced he had removed the acting director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons one week after the death of Jeffrey Epstein.

Dr. Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, who previously occupied the role between 1992 and 2003, will take over as the new director.

ADVERTISEMENT
The outgoing acting director, Hugh Hurwitz, will return to his previous role as an assistant director for the bureau’s reentry program, Barr said.

The death of Epstein, who was accused of sex trafficking, has led to scrutiny of the Metropolitan Correctional Center where he was in custody.

Federal officials like Barr, who oversees the Federal Bureau of Prisons as part of the Justice Department, have come under extreme pressure to explain the disgraced financier’s apparent suicide.

Epstein’s death last weekend led to an outpouring of unfounded conspiracy theories — including from President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: 'Statute of limitations' for Biden apology is 'up' Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation MORE — related to the alleged sex trafficker’s connections to numerous wealthy and powerful figures.

Barr last week ordered the warden at the Metropolitan Correctional Center to be temporarily reassigned pending the federal investigations into Epstein’s death.

“I am pleased to welcome back Dr. Hawk Sawyer as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. 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.
 
Various reports after Epstein's death described the federal jail as short-staffed and suggested that corrections officers did not follow protocol by regularly checking on him during his detention.
 
He had been held at the detention facility since July 6 when he was arrested on federal sex trafficking charges. Epstein had been placed on suicide watch late in July, but was removed from it before his death.
 
Barr last week promised that federal prosecutors would continue to investigate the allegations against Epstein, warning any co-conspirators that they “should not rest easy.”
 
In an indictment unsealed earlier this summer, Epstein was accused of having “sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at his homes in Manhattan, New York, and Palm Beach, Florida, among other locations” between 2002 and 2005.
 
The new set of charges against Epstein came after he pleaded guilty to sex trafficking and was sentenced to 13 months in prison more than a decade ago.
 
 
Epstein’s connections to President Trump and former President Clinton brought increased scrutiny to the case.
 
Trump, who ran in the same social circles with Epstein in New York and Florida, has said he had a falling out with Epstein 15 years ago.