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Jax sheriff's office cited former jail health care provider for a slew of contract violations

 A Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office cruiser is parked outside the Police Memorial Building.
Andrew Pantazi
The Tributary
A Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office cruiser is parked outside the Police Memorial Building.

The sheriff's office notified Armor Correctional Health Services that it violated its contract to provide health care at the Duval jail.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office cited a slew of contract violations by Armor Correctional Health Services as a reason for canceling its second contract with the company years before it was set to expire.

Undersheriff Shawn Coarsey outlined the reasons in a letter to Armor leadership on July 25. WJCT partner News4Jax obtained the letter.

Among its listed failings was that Armor did not maintain national accreditation standards, which resulted in the sheriff’s office being placed on probation with the National Commission on Correctional Health Care in April, according to records obtained by WJCT news partner The Tributary.

Armor also failed to report a 2022 criminal conviction in another state to either Florida officials or the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office before the city and company renewed its contract in October.

Coarsey’s letter says Armor failed to comply with the state’s public record laws and didn’t meet the administrative reporting requirements that were listed in the contract.

The Tributary has previously reported that Armor has not provided the news organization records upon request.

“This is not a comprehensive list of the outstanding deficiencies,” Coarsey wrote.

The Tributary first reported in May on the death of Dexter Barry, a 54-year-old heart transplant who begged police for his anti-rejection medication. He died days after his release from the jail.

That led to an internal review of Barry’s death and public conversations about Armor’s role at the jail. The Tributary first asked Sheriff T.K. Waters about Armor and his jail health care plans in August, when he was a candidate for sheriff.

Since then, The Tributary has also revealed that Armor hid, in violation of its contract and state law, its own criminal convictions related to medical treatment at another jail. Reporting also uncovered that deaths have tripled in the jail since health care became privatized in 2017.

Waters announced on Tuesday that Armor’s contract would end at the end of August. The city signed with another for-profit, private company called NaphCare.

Waters said he did a deep dive on NaphCare and the company came “highly recommended” by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

The Tributary found that NaphCare has a reputation for poor treatment of inmates that largely mirrors Armor’s. Like Armor, NaphCare has been sued hundreds of times in federal court. One of those lawsuits ended in a $3 million settlement for the family of a man who died in a Virginia jail in 2015.

At a jail with NaphCare’s medical services last September, an Atlanta man was eaten alive by bed bugs.

This story is published through a partnership between WJCT News and The Tributary, a nonprofit newsroom covering Northeast Florida.
Copyright 2023 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit WJCT News 89.9.

Nichole Manna - The Tributary