Why Did This Woman Who Was Arrested in a Prostitution Sting Die in a Florida Jail?

By Melissa Gira Grant

When a Volusia County, Florida, deputy sheriff and chaplain came to Rebecca Brogan to inform her that her sister April had died last Friday, Rebecca didn’t believe them. “You guys are wrong,” she said. “She’s in jail.”

It was Daytona Beach Police who arrested April Brogan, a 28-year-old from Palm Coast, Florida, and a mother to two young children. On April 29, they targeted her in an anti-prostitution sting, charging her with “aiding/abetting/committing prostitution.”

April had been in Volusia County Jail before, Rebecca told me. Public records confirm this: On April’s arrest report from April 29, her past involvement with drug court is noted. “They knew her,” Rebecca said. “They knew her history.”

On May 1, at 2:24 PM, two days after her cellmate reported April told her she was dope-sick, April was declared dead.

Rebecca believes her sister would be with alive today if the jail staff had given her the care she needed by properly screening her into detox, where she could be monitored by health-care professionals. “It could have saved her life,” Rebecca told me. “She could still be here.”

Representatives of Volusia County either have nothing to say or suggest they didn’t violate any protocol in the events that led to April’s death. “What protocol,” wondered her mother, Sandra, “would allow a child to die? My child?”

The Volusia County Jail warden, William McClelland, told me he would not comment on an “open investigation.”

“I don’t know, ‘investigation’ is kind of a strong term,” Volusia County spokesperson Dave Byron told me. The county sheriff’s office had been called in at the time April was found dead, and toxicology reports could take “a couple months” to come in from a medical examiner, he added. Her autopsy is not yet complete, but their “internal review,” according to Byron, has been completed.

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