Jeffrey Epstein, 66, was pronounced dead Saturday at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City in an apparent suicide. The financier was awaiting trial for sex trafficking minors.
Letters to the editor:
My first thought following Epstein's death is that a lot of powerful, prominent men (and a few women) are breathing a huge sigh of relief. With his death, the legal case against him is over, and there will be no new trials on charges of sexual trafficking, including minors as young as 14.
However, his death should not end a very necessary period of self-examination of how his depravity was allowed to continue uncontested for so long. His penalty, after a plea deal in 2008, was so glaringly light and inconsistent with the gravity of his crimes. It seems obvious that no one could have carried out the scale of his securing underage girls and subsequent sexual exploitation, without many others knowing or at the very least suspecting something was amiss.
Furthermore, the punishment meted out after his earlier conviction was a travesty of justice. Would he have been treated this way if he were not socially prominent, immensely wealthy and very politically connected?
The answer is no.
The notion that all Americans are treated equally under the law and subject to the same due process is left in shambles. Many of us already believe that white and black America often receive unequal treatment in the judicial system, but now it's undeniable that the same is true for the rich and powerful versus the rest of us. We must not waste this crisis of conscience; we must use it as a period to reflect who we are and who we want to be. This is an opportunity to fundamentally overhaul and reform our whole criminal justice system. We must not waste the moment.
Ken Derow; Swarthmore, Penn.
Epstein death demands investigation: Justice system failed victims of Jeffrey Epstein. Here's how I'd investigate his death.
For all practical purposes, the "good life" was over for alleged sex trafficker Epstein. There would be no more indulging in illicit sex, nor would he enjoy the lavish lifestyle to which he had grown so accustomed. Instead, he was facing life in a tiny prison cell. Incapable of taking any responsibility, Epstein took the cowardly way out and ended his life by his own hand — robbing his victims of seeing him held accountable.
But even though Epstein is off the hook, the jail that held him is not. In the wake of his failed suicide attempt last month, Epstein should have been on suicide watch. No doubt there will be a thorough investigation for failing to keep Epstein safe.
JoAnn Lee Frank; Clearwater, Fla.
Acosta's demise over Epstein: Alex Acosta resigns: Perverts like Jeffrey Epstein don't deserve a 'deal of a lifetime'
Disgraced Epstein’s alleged suicide at Manhattan jail can be construed as the ultimate admission of his guilt. Despite the overwhelming prima-facie evidence that clearly pointed him to be a serial pedophile operating with full impunity due to his wealth and political connections, law could not nail him on time, exposing our legal system's vulnerabilities and inequities.
I hope this brings closure to many victims, mostly young girls whom police say were abused by Epstein and his extended social circle. Each victim deserves a share of compensation. However, that still may be just a Band-Aid to their lifelong childhood trauma. Sadly, as the saying goes, "justice delayed is justice denied." In this case, the law miserably failed the underage victims.
Epstein had previously tried to commit suicide while in custody and was still not kept on a suicide watch, raising serious questions about his abrupt death. The network of his illegal activities could possibly further implicate politically connected heavyweights and influential bigwigs camouflaging their double standards. Perhaps this may only be the tip of the iceberg. Opening of a formal FBI investigation is the right step to understand his suicide and zero in on accomplices and enablers complicit in child abuse and sexual exploitation of trafficked minors.
Atul M. Karnik; Woodside, N.Y.
We know that President Donald Trump is retweeting conspiracy theories that the Clintons are responsible. The president is an abject failure.
— Teh Koosh
In my opinion, if Epstein feared for his life, he would have told his attorney after the first attempt; the man took his own life.
— Billie Edmonds
With his death, he saved the taxpayers millions of dollars in court and incarceration costs.
— Larry Chapman
Even in death, Epstein will be providing income for many lawyers.
— D.G. Carrier
I believe that he told the mental health professionals what they wanted to hear, so they would remove the suicide watch. Afterwards, he followed through with his plan of suicide.
— Ed Green
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Epstein's death must invoke criminal justice reform: Readers sound off