Questions remain after Jacksonville inmate dies in custody

Tips to I-TEAM suggest inmate asked for medical help, but did not get any

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Two days after a 28-year-old Jacksonville woman died in police custody, her family is questioning whether corrections staff did everything they could to save her life.

Lina Odom was found in urgent need of medical attention in her dorm at the Duval County jail in the early Saturday, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said. She was later taken to a hospital where she died.

The Sheriff's Office said investigators do not suspect foul play, adding that there are currently no signs any kind of use-of-force incident with corrections staff played a role.

The Medical Examiner's Office has not yet released a cause or manner of death.

Court records show Odom was arrested April 22 on a misdemeanor prostitution offense. Her arrest report said she was "waiting on a friend to return with crack" at the time she was taken into custody.

But Odom's father, whom News4Jax is not identifying, told the I-TEAM in an interview Monday that her death in jail six days later should not have happened, despite her possible drug use.

"Whatever her charges were, I don't believe she deserved to die for whatever she done," he said.

Odom's father provided the I-TEAM with a text message containing information from another inmate who claimed she "was going through withdrawals when she first got there."

But instead of getting better, the message suggested her condition only got worse. It went on to say that Odom made "requests to seek some type of medical attention, but none were answered."

Previously, Odom's father said he received reports from other inmates, who said his daughter passed out in the shower and began turning purple. They said fellow inmates carried her to bed afterward.

He said he had heard other inmates who tried to flag down corrections officers for medical care were instead admonished for trying to help her.

In response to the I-TEAM's questions, a Sheriff's Office spokesperson said inmates, who are medically screened during intake, are provided with basic medical care along with any prescription medication.

"If a condition arises that the medical staff does not have the ability to deal with, the inmate would be transported to a local hospital," the spokesperson added.

The death of Odom, who has been in and out of jail on drug and prostitution charges over the years, marks the first death in custody the Sheriff's Office has reported in 2018.

But it's not the first time someone has died in the agency's supervision.

In December 2016, for instance, Melvin Brown, 63, and Patricia Affrunti, 37, died in custody hours apart. The year before, inmate Paul Testa died after he was tased twice while restrained in a chair.

Attorney Ted Pina, who represents Testa's family, said his office's investigation found corrections staff lack the proper training needed to deal with medical episodes, particularly with the mentally ill.

"We think there's been a pattern that folks have been mistreated or treated inappropriately in the restraint chair, or with mental health problems," Pina said.

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