Ten people have died in Duval County jail custody this year, marking the fourth year in a row the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has seen double-digit deaths at the jail under a private medical provider.
Of the 10 deaths, causes are known for two, according to autopsies from the Medical Examiner’s Office. A 35-year-old man died by suicide in March and a 66-year-old man died from complications of tuberculosis.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said that two women who died in July and August had a medical episode before they were taken to the hospital, but further details of what caused those episodes have not yet been released.
The last death occurred on Aug. 7 when Rebecca Faircloth, 62, was found unresponsive. Her husband sent a letter to the prosecuting attorney written by Faircloth on June 12 detailing Faircloth’s struggle with Lupus and an infection because of the disease.
“Lupus affects my nervous system, joints and skin,” she wrote. “I also have sleep apnea and require a breathing machine at night when I sleep, which I also am not allowed to have while incarcerated.”
The Tributary found that deaths in the Duval County jail tripled since Armor Correctional Health Services started handling health care – with about four deaths per year from 2012 to 2017 when health care was handled in-house to about 13 deaths per year since 2018.
At least 54 of those deaths could be attributed to medical issues. These deaths include inmates who died in custody, either at the John E. Goode Pre-Trial Detention Facility or at a hospital after inmates were taken there for treatment.
After The Tributary published its findings, JSO announced its $98 million contract with the company will end four years early, on Aug. 30. The city signed with another for-profit, private company called NaphCare.
NaphCare has a reputation for poor treatment of inmates that largely mirrors Armor’s, with hundreds of federal lawsuits against it.
That contract, worth $110 million over five years, will begin on Sept. 1.
In comparison to Duval County’s deaths, 10 people have also died this year in the Harris County Jail in Texas, according to Houston Landing. That facility holds nearly 10,000 people, compared to Duval’s average inmate population of about 3,700 in July.
In February, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced it will investigate allegations of federal civil rights allegations in the Harris County Jail surrounding the deaths of two men: Jaquaree Simmons and Jacoby Pillow.
Similar to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, which announced it was conducting an internal review after The Tributary reported the death of a man with a recent heart transplant, Harris County investigated one of the jail deaths.
There, unlike here, a detention officer was charged with manslaughter.
Jacksonville State Attorney Melissa Nelson would not answer The Tributary's questions about the jail deaths and whether her office was investigating the recent surge of jail deaths.
In the last two years, even as Harris County battled potential state and federal takeovers of the jail, Duval’s death rate was actually significantly higher, 72% higher in 2022 and 57% higher in 2021.
In 2022, there were 19 deaths in the Jacksonville jail’s custody, with an average inmate population in July of 3,948; Harris had 28 deaths with a July 31 population of 10,003. The year before, Jacksonville had 14 deaths, with an average inmate population of 3,785, compared to Harris’ 21 deaths for 8,884 inmates.