NEAR FORT LAUDERDALE, (WSVN) — Officials are investigating the death of an inmate at a Broward County jail, the second such death in a county correctional facility in the past several weeks.
Authorities said Alvin Stephen Modeste was found dead in his cell after he strangled himself to death while he was at the North Broward Bureau.
He was scheduled to attend a hearing on Thursday to determine his mental competency.
Modeste was arrested on Oct. 4 after his mother called police because he was throwing things around their house. He gave himself up to police without incident after hiding in a closet.
Modeste was charged with culpable negligence and resisting arrest without violence. He was ordered to be held on a $5,000 bond.
His family said he had a history of schizophrenia, and he was expected to get help following this arrest.
His sister, Corine Modeste, spoke with 7News on Thursday.
“He was just being held to get to a facility that can contain him,” she said.
Corine said she simply misses her sibling.
“He’s just my brother,” she said as she broke down in tears. “He loves to make people laugh, came for the help of everybody.”
In a letter to Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony, Broward County Public Defender Gordon Weekes said Modeste suffered from a “well-documented mental illness.”
Weekes told 7News that Modeste had been placed in a unit designed to care for the mentally ill at the North Broward jail.
“Individuals that are acutely mentally ill, and are going to manifest their illness through either harm to others or harm to themselves, need to be monitored,” said Weekes.
But that oversight, Weekes said, apparently did not happen.
Modeste committed suicide by asphyxiation, according to Weekes, and was found dead in his cell. It is unclear what he actually used to harm himself.
“In this instance, it seems that this gentlemen was not monitored properly, where he had the time and the ability to harm himself, and unfortunately, he took his own life,” said Weekes.
News of Modeste’s death comes days after another inmate died while in custody.
Authorities said 29-year-old Janard Geffrard was beaten to death by his cellmate at the Broward County Jail, Dec. 16.
According to a confession by Geffrard’s cellmate, Kevin Barnes, Barnes told deputies he attacked Geffrard because he was gay and because he didn’t clean himself.
An investigation into the guards’ actions during Geffrard’s beaten was launched.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office released a statement that reads, “BSO’s Internal Affairs Unit has an open and active administrative investigation into the incident, and two BSO employees, a detention deputy and a detention technician, are currently on administrative investigative leave with pay.”
On Thursday, BSO pointed to a 2022 letter from Tony calling the incarceration levels of the mentally ill “an escalating concern,” and asking the county commission and other officials for resources and to find alternatives.
Weekes said changes are long overdue.
“What we were seeking is that either the sheriff, the BSO, invite in some outside oversight, or to have outside oversight come in to assist the sheriff,” said Weekes. “They have to also recognize that they have to treat those individuals with a heightened level of care.”
As for Corine, she is now asking for answers as to what happened to her brother when he was fatally injured.
“I’m just frustrated. I just want to know, and I don’t know why it’s being kept from me,” she said.
BSO released a statement in regards to Modeste’s death saying, “The incident is under active investigation, and one employee has been placed on administrative investigative leave with pay.”
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