(NEW YORK) — Jeffery Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell has been put on suicide watch days before her sentencing on five criminal counts, including sex trafficking in Palm Beach County, according to her lawyer.
She is awaiting sentencing, ahead of Tuesday morning’s hearing, at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
“Yesterday, without having conducted a psychological evaluation and without justification, the MDC placed Ms. Maxwell on suicide watch,” her lawyer, Bobbi Sternheim, wrote to a federal court in New York on Saturday. “She is not permitted to possess and review legal documents and is not permitted paper or pen. This has prevented her from preparing for sentencing.”
Nearly three years ago, her accomplice, Jeffery Epstein was found dead by suicide at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. The federal government announced last year that MCC would close due to its poor conditions.
Maxwell’s lawyers told the court she is not suicidal and has been deemed so by outside psychologists.
“Ms. Maxwell was abruptly removed from general population and returned to solitary confinement, this time without any clothing, toothpaste, soap, legal papers, etc,” her lawyer’s letter said on Saturday. “She was provided a ‘suicide smock’ and is given a few sheets of toilet paper on request. This morning, a psychologist evaluated Ms. Maxwell and determined she is not suicidal.”
Her lawyers said she is unable to prepare for sentencing and “is prohibited from reviewing legal materials prior to sentencing, becomes sleep-deprived, and is denied sufficient time to meet with and confer with counsel.” They said if this doesn’t change by Monday, they will formally request to have sentencing date delayed.
“I met with Ms. Maxwell today (after a 97-minute delay following my arrival at the facility),” her lawyer said. “She is not suicidal.”
The Department of Justice responded to Maxwell’s legal team Sunday afternoon, saying she was put on suicide watch after she allegedly emailed the Bureau of Prisons Inspector General’s Office claiming she feared for her safety. However, it said Maxwell does have a hard copy of all her legal documents and “is able to confer with defense counsel.”
“Here, the Warden and Chief Psychologist assessed that the defendant is at heightened risk of self-harm, particularly given her upcoming sentencing and sex offender status. As a result, they are not comfortable placing the defendant in the SHU (Special Housing Unit), but they also need to remove the defendant from general population to investigate the threat she reported to the IG,” United States attorney Damian Williams wrote to the court Sunday.
Following Maxwell’s email, and her alleged refusal to answer questions from the prison’s psychology staff, she was removed from the general population and placed on a suicide watch, according to the US Attorneys Office.
“Although the defendant has claimed to psychology staff that she is not suicidal, she has refused to answer psychology staff’s questions regarding the threat she reported to the IG. While she claimed to the IG to be in fear for her safety, she refused to tell psychology staff what that fear is,” Williams wrote.
“Given the defendant’s inconsistent accounts to the IG and to psychology staff, the Chief Psychologist assesses the defendant to be at additional risk of self-harm, as it appears she may be attempting to be transferred to a single cell where she can engage in self-harm. The defendant will remain on suicide watch until the MDC assesses that she is no longer at heightened risk of self-harm,” Williams wrote.
Prosecutors said despite her legal team’s claim, there’s no reason to delay Maxwell’s sentencing on Tuesday.
The Bureau of Prisons said it doesn’t comment on individual inmates.
“The BOP is committed to ensuring the safety and security of all inmates in our population, our staff, and the public. Humane treatment of the men and women in our custody is a top priority,” a Bureau of Prisons spokesperson told ABC News.
ABC News has previously reported that while she was awaiting trial, Maxwell was given paper clothes as a precaution.
ABC News’ Jim Hill contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.