Elected officials and prison policy experts are demanding answers to questions surrounding the death of Jeffrey Epstein, who died from an apparent suicide at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan.
The multimillionaire financier was found unresponsive in his cell in the Special Housing Unit at the MCC on Saturday morning. The 66-year-old was awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges of underage girls in New York. He had pleaded not guilty.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted an article that reported on his death, writing: “We need answers. Lots of them.”
Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) called for an investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Twitter.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that an investigation into how the “federal government let this happened” needs to happen immediately.
Attorney General William P. Barr said Epstein’s death in custody raises “serious questions.”
“I was appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead early this morning from an apparent suicide while in federal custody,” he said in a statement. “Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered.”
Barr also noted that in addition to the FBI’s investigation, Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz will open an investigation into Epstein’s apparent suicide.
Last month, Epstein was found semiconscious in his cell at MCC with marks on his neck. Prison officials were investigating the incident as a suicide attempt or possible assault. A Justice Department official would not comment on whether or not Epstein had been on suicide watch. The FBI has launched an investigation into the matter.
Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican, wrote a damning letter addressed to Barr about Epstein’s death in custody, writing, “heads must roll.”
“Every single person in the Justice Department — from your Main Justice headquarters staff all the way to the night-shift jailer — knew that this man was a suicide risk, and that his dark secrets couldn’t be allowed to die with him,” the letter read in part.
Sasse said that Epstein “should have been locked in a padded room under unbroken, 24/7, constant surveillance.”
Epstein avoided federal criminal charges in 2008 in Florida due to a plea agreement he reached with then-U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta, in which he was ordered to register as a sex offender following his conviction on an underage prostitution charge. He served 13 months in jail with broad work release allowances.
Other Twitter users, including criminal justice activists, called for more information on how Epstein was watched during his detainment.
The MCC did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on how it monitored Epstein.
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.
This article has been updated to include a statement from Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.).