(CNN)Attorneys for the two prison guards charged Tuesday in relation to Jeffrey Epstein's death have sought to shift blame from their clients to broader problems with the prison.
Jason E. Foy, an attorney for prison guard Tova Noel, released a statement Wednesday that did not directly challenge the indictment's allegations that Noel and Michael Thomas had slept and browsed the internet when they were supposed to be checking on Jeffrey Epstein and other prisoners.
负责看守的狱警托瓦·诺埃尔(Tova Noel)的律师贾森·E·福伊(Jason E. Foy)并未直接反驳诉状中的指控，并于周三发表声明称其当事人与同事迈克尔·托马斯(Michael Thomas)玩忽职守，在本应巡视杰弗里·爱普斯坦和其他囚犯期间睡觉和上网。
Instead, Foy's statement noted the "notoriously difficult conditions" of the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan.
福伊在声明中指出，曼哈顿大都会惩教中心(Metropolitan Correctional Center, MCC) 的“条件极其恶劣”。
"In fact, Ms. Noel remains available to fully and truthfully cooperate with the Inspector General's investigation, which is also geared toward uncovering the many problems that existed from the commencement of her employment which continue to plague the (MCC)," he added.
Montell Figgins, an attorney for Thomas, made a similar argument outside court on Tuesday.
"We had hoped that the US Attorney's Office would make an effort to try to address the systematic failures in respect to the Bureau of Prisons," he said. "They chose instead to indict Mr. Thomas and charged him with four counts and an indictment which Mr. Thomas is fully prepared to defend."
他表示：“我们曾寄希望于美国检察官办公室(US Attorney's Office)努力解决监狱管理局(Bureau of Prisons)的相关体系所存在的弊端。”“然而现实是，他们选择指控我当事人的四项罪名并发起诉讼，因此我将做好万全准备为之辩护。”
The attorneys' comments are part of a broader recognition from federal officials and prison employees that Epstein's death was a symptom of systemic issues at the prison, including under-staffing, mandatory overtime and ill-trained guards.
Even as Noel and Thomas were charged in court, the recently appointed head of the Bureau of Prisons acknowledged the staffing issues in testimony to Congress.
"We grew so big with so few staff that we were stretched to our limits," Bureau of Prisons director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer said. "Policies were sound -- staff don't always follow them because they were stretched too thin."
Noel and Thomas, the two guards on duty when Epstein died in his cell, pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy and filing false records in federal court on Tuesday. Prosecutors say the two guards did not do their required rounds or counts in the prison, yet falsely filled out records saying they did.
When they went to check on Epstein at 6:30 a.m. on August 10, they found him dead in his cell with a noose around his neck, the indictment says.
"We messed up," Thomas reportedly told a supervisor, according to the indictment. "I messed up, she's not to blame, we didn't do any rounds."
Epstein was alone in his cell all night, and internal surveillance video shows that no one entered the tier where Epstein was housed overnight, the indictment says. The New York City Medical Examiner has ruled his death a su/icide by hanging.
Epstein, an enigmatic multimillionaire, had been accused of operating a sex-trafficking ring of underage girls from 2002 to 2005, and was in prison awaiting trial when he died.
Understaffed and overworked
The issues with working conditions and understaffing of the prison were evident immediately following Epstein's death.
On the night Epstein died, Noel was working the second of back-to-back 8-hour shifts, the indictment says. Thomas, meanwhile, was primarily assigned to work as a materials handler supervisor, yet he also regularly worked overtime shifts as a correctional officer.
"These indictments don't address the core issues inside of the Metropolitan Correctional Center New York or the Federal Prison system in its entirety," said Tyrone Covington, the president of the local union representing MCC officers.
“ 这些起诉书没有解决纽约大都会惩教中心或整个联邦监狱系统的核心问题，” 代表MCC官员的当地工会总统的蒂龙·科温顿(Tyrone Covington)说。
"These staff where placed in an assignment where the tools and resources needed to be successful were not available. Simply assigning blame will not correct the staff shortages that put this chain of events in place."
Covington also said that the indictments "are a mask to cover up the true issues and merely be able to create a narrative that government has taken action."
科温顿还说，这些起诉书 “是掩盖实际问题的面具，仅仅旨在营造政府已经采取行动的假象 ” 。
Understaffing is a particularly acute issue in places with a high cost of living, such as MCC in Manhattan, according to Eric Young, the president of the AFGE Council of Prison Locals, which represents more than 33,000 Bureau of Prisons employees.
美国政府雇员联合会当地监狱协会(AFGE Council of Prison local)主席埃里克·杨(Eric Young)代表监狱管理局3.3万多名员工发言，在消费成本较高的地方，如曼哈顿的MCC，人员配备不足问题尤为严重。该协会代表着。
In a column for CNN in late August, Young said the union has repeatedly argued that prison employees across the country are underpaid and overworked. That has consequences.
"It is not surprising that when officers work 60-80 hours per week, with non-security staff filling in, fatigue sets in, allowing shortcuts and other mistakes to be made," he wrote.
How federal officials have responded
Federal officials appear to have heard the message. Attorney General William Barr said in August that there were "serious irregularities" at the prison, and he removed Hugh Hurwitz, the acting head of the Bureau of Prisons at the time.
联邦官员似乎听闻了这一消息。8月，司法部长威廉·巴尔(William Barr)表示，警务人员中存在“严重违规行为”，他罢免了时任美国监狱管理局(Bureau of Prisons)代理局长的休·赫维茨(Hugh Hurwitz)。
His replacement, Hawk Sawyer, testified in Congress on Tuesday that the Bureau of Prisons has identified a number of other instances where guards skipped inmate checks and referred those cases to the Justice Department inspector general.
他的继任者霍克索耶(Hawk Sawyer)周二在国会作证时表示，美国监狱管理局(Bureau of Prisons)已经查明了其他一些狱警疏忽囚犯检查工作的情况，并将这些情况提交给了司法部监察长。
"We are zealously going about trying to determine which of our employees are good employees and who do their job, and that is the vast majority of prison staff, but we do have some I know out there who obviously choose not to follow policy, choose not to do their job, and we want them gone," she said.
Hawk Sawyer also said she has driven efforts to improve staffing at prison facilities, which she said was at the root of some guard misconduct.
The Bureau of Prisons has hired several new employees to their staff processing center in Texas and has received more hiring authorities from the Department of Justice in recent months, Hawk Sawyer said.
霍克·索耶说，美国监狱管理局(Bureau of Prisons)在德克萨斯州的员工处理中心(staff processing center)招聘了几名新员工，并在最近几个月从司法部(Department of Justice)调任了更多的权威人士。
The BOP has hired 2,400 new staffers since January and has worked to fill shortages specifically at the MCC by sending temporary guards in on a rolling basis from facilities across the country, according to a BOP official.
Guard is a US military veteran
Noel, the 31-year-old guard charged on Tuesday, has no criminal record and served in the Army National Guard from 2008 to 2014, according to Foy, her attorney. She later got a degree in criminal justice and began working as a corrections officer at MCC in June 2018, Foy said.
31岁警卫诺埃尔于周二遭到起诉，在此之前她没有犯罪前科，据她的律师福伊(Foy)称，她在2008年到2014年期间在陆军国民警卫队(Army National guard)服役。福伊说，她后来获得了刑事司法学位，并于2018年6月开始在MCC担任狱警。
In his statement, Foy cast his client's actions on that August evening as a work issue but not a criminal one.
"The Government's decision to criminalize work performance, when there is an administrative process available through the collective bargaining agreement negotiated by her union with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, is disappointing," he said.
He also said he will continue to work with the government in good faith to "fairly settle this matter."
"Jeffrey Epstein's decision to take his life is a tragedy on many levels. It is our hope to persuade the Government officials not to create another victim of Jeffrey Epstein's apparent act of sui/cide," he wrote. "Ms. Noel and our nation deserve a more appropriate, responsible and graceful response to this tragedy."
CNN's Evan Perez and Kara Scannell contributed to this report.