Jeffrey Epstein's last days were filled with lawyers, vermin, and vending machines in a badly understaffed Manhattan jail, the New York Times reports. According to dozens of insider interviews, Epstein avoided his dank cell by sitting with lawyers in a private meeting room at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, often looking bored as they sat quietly and raided the vending machines. "It was shift work, all designed by someone who had infinite resources to try and get as much comfort as possible," says a lawyer with other clients there. Epstein also put money in the commissary accounts of other prisoners for protection. But as the clock wound down to his Aug. 10 death, Epstein looked worse, sleeping on his cell floor despite rodent and cockroach infestations.
Yet he persuaded jail officials that he wouldn't harm himself after an apparent suicide attempt on July 23. He spent six days on suicide watch—a common stretch there, apparently—and was returned to his old wing, where he met with lawyers on Aug. 9 about disturbing new allegations against him. That night, from his cell window, he might have been able to see the overworked guards who were supposed to check on him every half hour; instead they dozed off at 3:30am, prison officials say. Epstein's lawyers don't buy the autopsy result of suicide by hanging, per Slate, but the Times suggests a possible deeper cause of death: the lack of federal funding for prison guards, which has forced desperate facilities to use cooks, nurses, and teachers as fill-ins. (Read more Jeffrey Epstein stories.)