The MCC has held high-profile inmates but it was largely unknown to the public until it became the place where Jeffrey Epstein was found dead last weekend, more than a month after his arrest on federal sex trafficking charges.
Epstein’s death raised questions about how such a high-profile suspect could die under the care of the federal government. Criminal justice advocates argue the focus on problems at the prison is long overdue.
“The plumbing there is horrible,” said Andrew Laufer, a lawyer who has represented clients at the MCC. “You have prisoners going to the bathroom in the shower stalls. You have vermin, you have the rats, you have the roaches, you have a lot of just the day-to-day stuff that’s just horrible.
“[Prisons are] tough places to be, places that you don’t want to be. But they should have a minimum standard that they should live up to.”
Lawyers have found that clients held at MCC receive delayed access to medical care. Joshua Dratel, who has worked with those held in the prison since the 1980s, said one recent client broke a foot but had to wait three weeks to see a specialist doctor.
“There’s a lack of standards of care for inmates,” Dratel said. “It’s a difficult place for inmates, it’s a difficult place for staff, it’s a difficult place for us [lawyers] for us to visit.”
In response to Epstein’s death, Democratic and Republican leaders on the House judiciary committee sent a letter to BOP acting director Hugh Hurwitz, saying the incident “demonstrates severe miscarriages of or deficiencies in inmate protocol and has allowed the deceased to ultimately evade facing justice”.
The DoJ reassigned the MCC warden and placed on leave two guards assigned to watch Epstein. It took the death of a “rich, white person for that to happen, for those measures to be taken,” Dratel said.
“Those of us who operate in this system on a daily basis have been crying in the wilderness about this, that it has not been running properly for a significant period of time.
“It shouldn’t have to come to this.”Source: The Guardian