With Epstein, the Truth is Worse than a Conspiracy

Yesterday, we discussed why conspiracy theories have been so prominent in the wake of Jeffrey Epstein’s death. The sudden death of the top criminal suspect in the nation raised many questions. And some on both sides of the aisle believed there was more to the story than met the eye.

With that said, the official story is most likely the real story. None of us were in that jail cell, so we cannot know the full picture. But in all likelihood, Epstein hanged himself with a bedsheet in his jail cell as has been reported. There was likely no nefarious actor or dark political figure pulling the strings.

But in many ways, the conspiracy theories are more of a comfort than the truth. If an evil interloper placed his thumb on the scale and caused Epstein’s death, it is an issue. If he or she did so to escape certain prosecution after Epstein gave them up, it’s even worse.

But the reality, that the Department of Justice and the prison system was unable to protect the most high-profile suspect and witness in the nation, is in many ways even more concerning.

Suicide Watch?

Despite initial reports that Epstein died while on suicide watch, multiple reports explained that authorities took Epstein off that restriction more than a week before his death. Those reports did not answer why, though, other than explaining that Epstein’s lawyers lobbied for the withdrawal.

But Epstein had reportedly already attempted suicide once. Why would the legal system not take every precaution to keep him alive, both so that he could receive proper punishment for his crimes and so that he could unravel the web of potential co-conspirators that have been linked to him, including Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton?

The apparent incompetence of the Metropolitan Correctional Center where Epstein died continues. The New York Times released a bombshell report this morning, detailing the indifference displayed by the correctional officers on scene. Here’s the opening paragraph:

One of the two people guarding Jeffrey Epstein when he apparently hanged himself in a federal jail cell was not a full-fledged correctional officer, and neither guard had checked on Mr. Epstein for several hours before he was discovered, prison and law-enforcement officials said.

Attorney General William Barr appears incensed at these revelations, and as the nation’s top justice official, he should be.

“We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation,” Barr said. “We will get to the bottom of what happened,” he added. “There will be accountability.”

President Trump echoed Barr’s sentiments, supporting his investigation. “Basically what we are saying is we want a full investigation,” Trump said. “I want a full investigation and that is what I am demanding and what our attorney general, our great attorney general is doing a full investigation.”

The Importance of Justice

Investigation is as important now as ever. Regardless of whether Epstein would have linked to higher-profile sex offenders or not, there still needs to be justice in this case.

Our culture doesn’t discuss true justice very often these days. Apart from an occasional spike in public interest when shows like Making a Murderer debut, people may not think about justice much day to day. But it is vitally important in this case.

Though we do not now, nor may we ever know the full extent of Epstein’s crimes, there are dozens, hundreds, or potentially even thousands of women whose lives Epstein permanently changed with his vile actions. Nothing could provide less justice for those victims than his suicide. A quick death in a prison cell does nothing to end their pain.

Justice isn’t about getting even. It’s about exposing darkness to the light. Those women spent many years thinking that the billionaire who exploited them would never come to justice. They have now plunged right back into that uncertainty with his death.

From the beginning, the media treated Epstein’s case more as a political sideshow than as a pursuit of justice. Pundits on both sides hoped that this criminal would permanently sink their political opponent by linking Trump or Clinton to sexual crimes. Those pundits in the media and elsewhere cast aside the victims as an afterthought. And now the criminal justice system has failed those same victims, not exposing the length and depth of Epstein and his conspirators crimes before he killed himself.

Often, conspiracy theories play to the deepest and darkest insecurities in our psyches and in our culture. But in some cases, like the case of Jeffrey Epstein, they help us avoid the reality that the truth is darker than any conspiracy.

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