Barr Taps New Prison Head in Shadow of Epstein Death

WASHINGTON (CN) – Shaking up an agency that has come under increasing scrutiny following the jailhouse death of Jeffry Epstein, Attorney General William Barr appointed a new head Monday to the Bureau of Prisons.

Acting Director of the Bureau of Prisons Hugh Hurwitz speaks during a July 19, 2019, news conference at the Justice Department in Washington. Hurwitz was removed Monday from his post more than a week after millionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein took his own life while in federal custody. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Outgoing acting director Hugh Hurwitz was given the job in May 2018 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In tapping Kathleen Hawk Sawyer to take over, Barr said Hurwitz will return to his former role as assistant director of the bureau’s Re-Entry Services Division.

Like Barr, the appointment marks Hawk Sawyer’s second time holding the office. Indeed it was Barr, during his stint as attorney general under President George H. W. Bush, who appointed Hawk Sawyer to lead the Bureau of Prisons in in 1992.

“I am pleased to welcome back Dr. Hawk Sawyer as the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons,” Barr said in a statement. “Under Dr. Hawk Sawyer’s previous tenure at the bureau, she led the agency with excellence, innovation and efficiency, receiving numerous awards for her outstanding leadership.”

News of Hurwitz’s reassignment comes amid the agency’s investigation into the death of financier Jeffrey Epstein, whose Aug. 10 death in the federally run Metropolitan Correctional Center has been ruled a suicide.

Barr wasted little time reassigning the Metropolitan Correctional Center’s warden following Epstein’s death, and he also suspended two staffers at the facility pending the results of the investigation.

The statement announcing Hurwitz’s reassignment did not give a reason for the move, however, and the Justice Department did not respond to a request about the extent to which he was motivated by Epstein’s death.

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