Attorney General William P. Barr ousted the acting head of the Bureau of Prisons, the Justice Department announced Monday amid the fallout from sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide in federal jail this month.
Hugh Hurwitz, who had served in the acting position since May 2018, will return to the assistant director position at the Bureau of Prisons that he formerly occupied, the Justice Department said.
He will be replaced by Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, who led the bureau from 1992 to 2003.
“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,” Mr. Barr said in a statement.
The attorney general also named Thomas Kane as the deputy director.
No reason was given for the shakeup, but it comes as the bureau faces increased scrutiny after Epstein’s death on Aug. 10 at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City.
Last week, Mr. Barr reassigned the facility’s warden and placed two staffers who had been assigned to Epstein’s cell unit on administrative leave.
Epstein was in jail awaiting trial on federal charges. Prosecutors said he maintained a network of teen girls he paid to perform sexual acts and recruit other teens to join the network.
Both the FBI and Justice Department are investigating Epstein’s death. The department also will continue looking into criminal activity related to the alleged network of girls and will consider prosecution of co-conspirators.
According to a new poll, Americans are split on whether Epstein was murdered or killed himself — and even most of those who say he took his own life say it happened because authorities ignored warning signs.
A Certus Insights poll found 35% believe Epstein was murdered and 37% believe his death two weeks ago was a suicide. Among those who said his death was a suicide, 53% said they still see something fishy, suspecting that prison guards “intentionally gave him the opportunity.”
• Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.
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