Exclusive by Tracy Beanz
The unanswered questions about policy and procedure at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in NY have been a cornerstone of some of the rampant speculation surrounding the death of high-profile inmate Jeffrey Epstein. In order to help dispel some of this speculation, UncoverDC spoke with Scott Lyon, a 25-year veteran of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) who retired last October, and has held positions from Correctional Officer, to Captain. Captains are responsible for supervising all corrections officers as well as the security of the facilities they oversee. UncoverDC was given copies of his credentials as verification for this story.
Just a few days ago, UncoverDC posted a video piece about inconsistencies in the legacy media reporting about Epstein’s death. Fox News republished a NY Post piece in which an anonymous former prisoner commented about the uniform color issued by the BOP. He mentioned that there was a standard issue brown uniform, and Epstein was photographed outside of the hospital wearing orange. Further research showed that brown was the standard BOP issued uniform color. This left the public clamoring for more answers. Lyons was able to provide some clarity.
When asked about the uniforms he said “Inmates in general population with no other concerns are issued a brown uniform. Jeffrey Epstein was housed in a Special Housing Unit, or SHU. As standard policy across the BOP, they place inmates housed in SHU in orange to differentiate them from other prisoners. This typically isn’t publicized for security reasons. You wouldn’t find this policy written in a place the public could access it, but in my tenure, I have read this policy and procedure myself, and it is standard across all BOP facilities” He went into more detail about what happens inside of the SHU. “When in SHU, other than the orange dress and a few other restrictions, prisoners would be issued a standard cotton sheet. This would be different if a prisoner were on suicide watch, but it was reported that Epstein was removed from suicide watch, so he would have had a standard bedsheet”.
Lyon was asked about the SHU in BOP facilities more generally. “Each prison has a different floor plan, however there is uniform policy and procedure which is governed by laws. The prisons don’t make up their own rules and regulations- they follow the same standards. The procedure for the SHU is that all cell doors are locked. Each time an inmate comes out of their cell they must be escorted by staff. Each cell typically has a double bed. You may have a few cells that have single beds in case you need discipline or other reasons. If you are in a double bed cell, they attempt at all costs to put two inmates together at all times, and one of the reasons for that is to deter self-harm; typically an inmate in the same cell would alert at any attempt at self-harm.” If this is the case, and given the history and incident in July, why was it that Epstein was alone? Lyon replied “One of the more difficult things we encounter is prison dynamics, and it is just a fact of life. Certain inmates refuse to be housed with other inmates, or they cause violence because of disagreements etc. One of the types of crimes that causes a lot of strife amongst the population in prisons is pedophilia.” This could have contributed to why Epstein was alone in his cell and not housed with another inmate.
We asked if it was common for prisoners who had previously been on suicide watch after an attempted suicide, as was alleged in Epstein’s case, to be removed from suicide watch so quickly. What percentage of the time does something like that happen? Lyon answered that in his experience “about 80% of prisoners placed on watch are removed within three weeks, and a lot of that has to do with circumstances” He noted “a lot of the time they do it for attention, or to be removed from where they are being housed, and not because they are actually suicidal. You have to remember, the chief of psychology in the facility makes the decision to remove prisoners from a suicide watch, and they would have had to do an SRA or a Suicide Risk Assessment. When making these decisions, doctors put their licenses and livelihoods on the line.” Lyon doesn’t believe that Epstein would have been removed from suicide watch if he were suicidal and stated that a plea from a prisoner’s attorney just wouldn’t be enough for a doctor to change their mind.
We then moved on to talk about the cameras, the sleeping, the stories about officers from other positions filling in that night, and the rest of the staffing irregularities. Lyon informed us on surveillance inside in the prison. “Because of budget shortfalls, it wouldn’t be uncommon for the camera systems to malfunction, however I don’t think that was the case here. Because of a law called PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) we are prohibited by law from filming inside of a cell. So, the only cameras would be in the hallways. If the reporting about the guards being asleep is correct, along with the reporting about the logs being falsified, the only way that they would know that at BOP is because they were able to view functioning hallway cameras, and noticed these officers didn’t do their rounds.” We asked what the chances were that there were two officers, assigned to the same unit, at the same time, who fall asleep on shift. Lyon took the opportunity to give us information on what staffing is like inside of the BOP. “Firstly, the BOP staffs about 50 to 60 thousand employees, across 127 prisons. Sleeping on the job is not a common problem, however, it is possible that this facility was understaffed, and these two officers had been working a lot of overtime, expected a quiet night, were exhausted, and figured they would just take a quick nap for a bit. I do know that while they were sleeping, no one would be able to access Epstein’s cell without access. There are outer and inner doors that need to both be accessed at the same time as per BOP policy. So, there isn’t a way for someone to enter a cell without that procedure being followed.” Lyon added “In addition, I wanted to dispel a little bit of the speculation regarding the reporting that the people on shift that night weren’t titled as true corrections officers. Every single employee in a BOP facility is trained as a corrections officer. This means that every employee in the BOP is trained to do what these guards were doing. Some come in and start as a guard and get reassigned to another job function, and some come in with another function and are assigned to guard, but all BOP employees are trained first to do the job these officers were doing in the Epstein case”
Moving on to the photographer at the ready in the hospital, we asked Scott if he felt a tip was given to the NY Post or the photographer who photographed Epstein. He said “Absolutely. Especially in cases like this, there are a lot of people willing to talk and give tips, and that is definitely what happened here”. We then asked about Epstein’s arm positioning on the stretcher, and Lyon told UncoverDC “the position of his hands and his arms is likely because they had him cuffed and the cuffs are out of view. I have seen a lot of comments about how his hand was draped outside of the bars and onto his lap. This was likely because you need to cuff the prisoner at all times. There could have been a chance he was faking it, or they didn’t want to take a chance, and so prisoners are always cuffed.”
To close, we asked this career BOP professional if he thought there was a greater conspiracy at hand. He replied “Honestly, in my experience in this field, this is likely really what happened. I have seen a lot of people interviewed as experts on this that just don’t have the experience and that has caused a lot of speculation. Fully speculating on my own part, it could be he wanted to be moved. He expected those guards to be walking by at a certain time, he tried to time his attempt with when they walked by, and they never walked by and then he was SOL. But everything they have told us so far is completely plausible from my experience”.