The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office John E. Goode Pre-Trial Detention Facility. [Andrew Pantazi]

Two men died in the last three days while under the care of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the office announced.

Walter James Matthews, 49, was arrested in April and was hospitalized on July 21 due to a pre-existing medical condition. He died Friday in custody at a local hospital. The Sheriff’s Office said he may have experienced a medical episode related to a prior condition. No other details were given.

The office said Matthews had not had force used against him by other inmates or officers while incarcerated.

Two days later, on Sunday at around 4:30 p.m., correctional officers found 62-year-old Robert Shaffer “in acute medical distress”, the Sheriff’s Office said. Shaffer received CPR and was taken to the hospital where he died.

Shaffer had also reported a medical condition during intake and did not have any contact with inmates or officers that would have contributed to his medical emergency, the Sheriff’s Office said. 

A medical examiner will determine the cause of death for both men. 

They are the 13th and 14th in-custody deaths reported at the Duval County jail this year. They are the second and third reported under the jail’s new medical care provider, NaphCare. However, Matthews went into medical distress while the old medical provider, Armor, was still working at the jail. 

This is the fourth year in a row the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has seen double-digit deaths at the jail under a private medical provider.

The Tributary previously 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. 

After The Tributary published its findings, JSO announced it was severing its $98 million contract with the company. The department awarded a $110 million contract to NaphCare over five years.

Nichole Manna reports on the criminal justice system in Jacksonville. She has previously covered criminal justice at newspapers in Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina and Tennessee, but is originally...