The Metropolitan Correctional Center, the Manhattan jail where Jeffrey Epstein was infamously found dead after two guards who were supposed to be keeping an eye on him took naps and surfed the Internet (that is, according to the official story), has been shuttered by the DoJ - at least temporarily - while the BOP scrambles to fix up the jail to make it a "safer" environment for inmates.
According to the NYT, the decision comes just weeks after Deputy AG Lisa O. Monaco visited the jail in order to get a firsthand look at the conditions and its operations. She decided to shut it down "given the ongoing concerns." Its current population of 233 inmates, most of whom are awaiting trial, will be moved to other accommodations.
Over the years, the jail has played host to other major criminals, including "El Chapo" Guzman, the Mexican drug lord, and John Gotti, the boss of the Gambino crime family.
A DoJ spokeswoman said Thursday that the department was "committed to ensuring that every facility in the federal prison system is not only safe and secure, but also provides people in custody with the resources and programs they need to make a successful return to society after they have served their time."
As part of that effort, the BoP had "assessed steps necessary to improve conditions" at the MCC, and in an effort to address them “as quickly and efficiently as possible,” the department had decided to close the jail "at least temporarily, until those issues have been resolved."
Though the BoP didn't say where the other prisoners would be moved to, potential candidates include other nearby federal lockups, including the Metropolitan Detention Center, or MDC, in Brooklyn, and the federal prison in Otisville, NY.
David Patton, the "attorney in chief" at Federal Defenders of New York, which represents thousands of indigent defendants in the Five Boroughs, told the NYT that the MCC has been a "longstanding disgrace".
"It’s cramped, dark and unsanitary. The building is falling apart. Chronic shortages of medical staff mean that people suffer for long periods of time when they have urgent medical issues."
One retiring federal judge also recently complained at the conditions of the two federal lockups.
In April, Judge Colleen McMahon of Federal District Court in Manhattan, who had just stepped down as chief judge, said during the sentencing of a defendant that “the single thing in the five years that I was chief judge of this court that made me the craziest was my complete and utter inability to do anything meaningful about the conditions at the M.C.C., especially at the M.C.C.," she said, as well as the M.D.C.
"There is no excuse for the conditions in those two institutions," she said, adding that they "are run by morons."
Of course, as the judge pointed out, the conditions at the MCC's sister lockup, the MDC, over in Brooklyn, aren't much better. The Patton, from the Federal Defenders of NY, said moving the inmates to MDC would "accomplish nothing" in terms of improving the conditions in which they are held.