Lawmakers Zero in on Jail Standards, Mental Health

23 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bland Family Not Expected At Texas Jail Review.

Bland was pulled over by police July 10 on University Drive — which will now be called Sandra Bland Parkway — for allegedly failing to signal a lane change. AUSTIN (AP) — A new review of Texas jail safety following the death of Sandra Bland is starting without relatives of the 28-year-old woman who was stopped for a routine traffic violation.HOUSTON – An investigation into the arrest of a woman following a traffic stop earlier this summer and her death in a Texas jail cell three days later should be finished “within the next few days,” a state official said in mid-September.“If you deny somebody their liberty, you have a responsibility to make them safe,” Chairman of the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice John Whitmire said. “You can’t be routine. When her interaction with Texas state Trooper Brian Encinia escalated into a confrontation, he arrested her on a charge of assaulting a public servant and took her to jail.

You can’t say, ‘Well they put themselves there so they are kind of on their own.’ You’ve got to do a real good screening and assessment.” Whitmire addressed the six other state senators on the committee by saying Tuesday’s meeting was the most important discussion he has ever chaired. On Tuesday, city council members heard complaints from some longtime residents, indicating the divide in the community over the street sign and what it represents. The committee heard testimony from sheriff’s and department executives across the state to address the problems with jail operations in Texas. “Today the jails commission is looking at fine-tuning and finding the holes in the system to be able to continue to identify these individuals,” Chair of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles David Gutierrez said, “and perhaps to stop, prevent a suicide or a suicide attempt in a county jail.” Gutierrez, a former Lubbock County Sheriff, testified in front of the committee Tuesday.

Gutierrez said the senators need to come up with a way to provide the treatment and support for the mentally ill inmates, and then they need to figure out how they are going to fund them, which according to Gutierrez isn’t going to be cheap. Her family maintains that she never should have been stopped and never should have been arrested. “I want them to remember that something happened on that street and that there is work that still needs to be done in Prairie View, Texas,” Smith said. Bland was Black, and her arrest and death came amid heightened national scrutiny of police and their dealings with Black suspects, especially those who have been killed by officers or die in police custody. District Judge David Hittner, who wanted to set a trial date, they’ve been hampered by a lack of information from the state about the investigation. Dennis said. “How about now?” Thomas Rhodes, one of the attorneys, replied, drawing a few handclaps and murmurs from the courtroom audience that included more than a dozen Bland supporters, some of them wearing shirts with references to the 28-year-old Chicago-area woman.

Judge Hittner said the hearing was intended to “provide a roadmap” to the civil case, and he peppered both sides with questions as they summarized Ms. The Bland family attorneys contend jailers should have checked on her more frequently and that the county should have performed mental evaluations once she disclosed she had a history of attempting suicide. (AP)

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