If there is another movie on the heels of "The Departed" and "Black Mass" about the notorious South Boston gangs, it might include a scene with an old man beaten to death in federal prison. Perhaps, out of historical accuracy, the push notification announcing the killing might well be lost amid the partisan vitriol of a news cycle spinning out of control, such that it barely registers the name of a man who once shared space on the FBI’s most-wanted list with Osama bin Laden.

The real-life event behind such a scene would be the killing on Tuesday of 89-year-old James “Whitey” Bulger, a notorious Boston mobster and FBI informant. He was found dead, beaten beyond recognition by other inmates, at the Hazelton federal penitentiary near Bruceton Mills, W.Va.

Bulger, the boss of the Winter Hill Gang in Boston, led a life of crime rife with murders, extortion, gambling, hijacking, and drug deals. By 1994, with an indictment in hand, federal agents were finally ready to move on Bulger, but he vanished. The agent who had been his handler tipped him off, leading to a 16-year manhunt.

After he was finally arrested in 2011, his trial revealed the ties between the street boss and the FBI, and his role as an informant of 15 years became public. Through bribes and government protection of a valuable informant, federal agents helped him conceal 19 murders and paved the way for Bulger to kill witnesses to his crimes and even to convict an innocent man of his crimes. Understandably, those revelations prompted a revaluation of how law enforcement officers work with informants.

In 2013, he was sentenced two life sentences and was found guilty in 11 murders. Since then, he had moved among various federal facilities until he wound up in West Virginia only to be killed, likely in a hit connected to his mobster past, shortly after he arrived.

Some might say that it is fitting that a man protected by the government during his time as an informant would die a truly violent death in their custody. But it is not. The long trials and mountains of evidence that showed how the FBI allowed Bulger to get away with his crimes was meant to publicly air the problems with the informant system and to reaffirm the commitment to American justice above the gangs that it failed to fight.

Like the cover-ups that his role as an informant offered, his death represents another failing of the criminal justice system: the reality of underfunded, understaffed American prisons rife with violence. Bulger was not the first inmate to be killed by other prisoners at Hazelton — indeed, two others were reportedly killed there this year, and the facility is home to well-documented violence.

Part of the problem is likely that facilities like Hazelton are understaffed and often lack enough correctional officers on hand. That means that prisons have turned to untrained guards — including teachers and administrative staff — to watch over inmates.

In the United States, which prides itself on the rule of law and justice, prisoners in federal custody — some of the most tightly-controlled spaces in the country — should not wind up beaten to death without intervention from guards.

Like the protection of a murderous informant, such violence in prisons is unacceptable and represents a failing of the American justice system.

Thus, even in death, the notorious gangster has sparked renewed conversations about the topics that dominated his life: how America deals with its criminals.