The mysterious deaths of two high-profile prisoners have focused a harsh light on the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which has not had a permanent director for more than a year and saw its staff drastically cut under the Trump Administration.
Prison reform advocates say they hope some change may come from the public attention on the reported suicide of multi-millionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein at the New York Metropolitan Correctional Center and the murder last year of infamous FBI informant at a federal prison in West Virginia.
Both facilities had long records of violence and inmate complaint of brutality prior to the headline-making deaths.
“How about the others?” asked defense lawyer Susan Kellman, referring to other inmates who do not have the high profile of Epstein and Bulger. “They’re treated like dirt under somebody’s shoes,” she told Brian Ross on the Law and Crime Network program Brian Ross Investigates.
A former warden and senior executive in the federal prison system, Cameron Lindsay, said the hiring freezes imposed under the Trump Administration and others has had a “significant impact” on the prison operations. “This has been going on forever,” he said on the program. “The suicide of Jeffrey Epstein is an issue, in my opinion, of sound correctional leadership and decision making, or lack thereof”.
The Trump administration hiring freeze was lifted after William Barr took office as Attorney General. He has promised a full investigation into the death of Epstein and the circumstances surrounding it. The warden at the New York MCC has been transferred and two guards placed on administrative leave.
The FBI is already investigating the murder of Bulger in West Virginia. He was transferred to a prison which housed a number of mafia figures he helped to implicate. Bulger died within hours of arriving at the prison and being placed kin the general population.