A Florida sheriff is ending the controversial work release program that allowed Jeffrey Epstein to leave jail for 12 hours a day about a decade ago, according to a press release.
Palm Beach Sheriff Ric Bradshaw decided to terminate the program after receiving criticism for allowing Epstein to participate after almost three dozen underage girls accused him of sexually abusing them, The Miami Herald reported Monday.
A judge’s order will now be required for any prisoner to do in-home detention or work outside of jail, the release said. Previously, the sheriff could decide.
“This decision not only saves money by placing inmates at their home on house arrest, but also places total control of the decision-making process in the hands of the court system, and the presiding judge,” the release said.
The announcement came the same day a commission studying the program released a report, and the release said the sheriff agreed with the findings.
In 2009, Epstein was granted work release to go to a downtown West Palm Beach high-rise for 12 hours a day, six days a week.
His accusers’ lawyers have said Epstein organized sexual encounters with underage girls during his work release. Although Epstein had paid deputies to act as his security during his release, documents showing who visited the financier have disappeared, according to the Herald.
Sex offenders are not typically given work release, but a sheriff’s office spokesperson told the newspaper Epstein was not a designated sex offender before being released from prison.
The financier’s work release participation came after U.S. attorney for Southern Florida Alexander Acosta decided to allow Epstein to plead guilty to minor prostitution instead of sex trafficking. Epstein was sentenced to 13 months in prison.
Epstein was found dead in his New York cell after being arrested again for allegations of sex trafficking minors. The death has been ruled a suicide.