Sandra Bland committed suicide because she couldn’t get bail: Lawyers

14 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

New inmate screening form to go into effect Dec. 1.

The suicide of Sandra Bland in a Texas jail cell in July was shocking because it seemed so easily avoidable: Not only had Bland been pulled over and booked for trivial reasons, she was also held in jail for three days, for no reason other than that she was unable to make bail. In August, Bland’s mother filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against Waller County, two screening officers at the jail, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the officer who pulled Bland over.

Bland, 28, was arrested during a confrontational traffic stop in Texas three days before she was found dead in her Waller County Jail cell on July 13. Authorities found that jailers had failed to place Bland on suicide watch after she informed at least one staffer she had suffered from depression and reported that she had previously tried to commit suicide. Her suicide, one of more than 149 in county jails across the state since 2009, prompted criminal justice advocates to call for changes to how Texas handles its mentally ill. But in this week’s court filing, lawyers for Waller County say that neither Bland’s male friend nor her family was willing to pay the $515 needed to bail out the woman.

Unlike the previous assessment used during intake screenings – which occur immediately after inmates arrive in jail – the new form provides jailers with specific instructions on when to contact mental health professionals or their supervisors.

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