The deaths of four Morgan County Jail inmates in the past 11 months, including two since Wednesday, were merely coincidental, the Sheriff's Office said Monday.

A sheriff's spokesman said the jail takes precautions monitoring inmates who exhibit erratic behavior.

“Our goal is to have zero deaths in our facility,” Sheriff's Office spokesman Mike Swafford wrote in a text message. “Unfortunately, the same ailments and afflictions that affect individuals outside of jail, continue to affect them inside. Mental health issues and addiction do not stop at our door.”

A Decatur woman, 39, died early Saturday morning about 24 hours after being brought to the jail on a public intoxication charge, according to officials. Coroner Jeff Chunn said he pronounced the woman dead at 2:39 a.m. Saturday at Decatur Morgan Hospital after she was transported there from the jail by ambulance. He has not released her name. 

Swafford said Decatur police arrested the woman at 1:53 a.m. Friday and she was in a "holding cell or drunk tank" being monitored when she stopped moving shortly before 2 a.m. Saturday. Jail staff began administering CPR before she was taken to the hospital, he said, and an investigation is being conducted with a toxicology/autopsy report pending. 

“As was seen Saturday, individuals may be brought in under the influence of drugs/alcohol and are kept in booking and monitored by medical, until they are sober enough to be transferred into the jail,” Swafford said. “Unfortunately, even with these additional protocol, the inmate passed.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Isaac Newton Throckmorton, 44, of Madison, died in the medical unit of the Morgan County Jail after being jailed Sept. 22 on three misdemeanor charges. Swafford said preliminary autopsy results showed Throckmorton’s injury was consistent with his having killed himself by hanging.

“He was found alone and unresponsive in his medical unit cell,” Swafford said. A note was also found, he said.

Medical personnel initiated lifesaving measures and Throckmorton was transported to Decatur Morgan Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 2:42 p.m. Wednesday.

The latest two Morgan jail deaths came from Decatur police arrests. Police spokeswoman Emily Long said the county jail doesn’t accept inmates who appear to be in medical distress.

“We give our deepest condolences to the family in this time of loss,” she said.

On June 15, a 24-year-old Morgan County Jail inmate was found unresponsive in his bunk and never regained consciousness, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The office said CPR was administered to Jock Jabbar Taylor Jr., of Decatur, as he was transported to Decatur Morgan Hospital.

Chunn pronounced Taylor dead at the hospital. Taylor had been in the Morgan County Jail for two days after spending the previous two weeks in the Madison County Jail.

Taylor’s body was transported to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences in Huntsville for an autopsy. Chunn said Monday he has not received all of the autopsy results on Taylor.

Taylor was in an open-air, six-bed cell in a pod of about 25 to 27 inmates, Swafford said.

Last November, Heather Nicole Legg, 27, of Lester, a Morgan County inmate, died at the Decatur Morgan Hospital after being found unresponsive in her jail cell.

Then-Sheriff Ana Franklin said Legg transferred from Limestone County Jail about 200 days before dying.

According to federal court records, Legg pleaded guilty to federal drug charges in June 2018.

On July 25, Kenneth Ray McDonald of Killen died of an apparent heart attack in Franklin County Jail a couple of weeks after transferring from Lawrence County Jail.

Limestone and Lawrence county officials reported no jail deaths in the past year.

Limestone County spokesman Stephen Young said a few inmates experienced drug overdoses, but “they weren’t life-threatening.”

Lawrence County Sheriff spokesman Capt. Chris Waldrep said, “We haven’t had an in-custody death in at least a dozen years.”

Morgan County Jail has an average population of about 600, while Limestone has about 225 and Lawrence has about 180, authorities said.

A spokeswoman for the Alabama Sheriff’s Association said the group does not track statewide jail deaths.

mike.wetzel@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2442. Twitter @DD_Wetzel.

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