Texas city will keep road named after Sandra Bland

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.“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. The discussion can’t be put off, said Whitmire, a Houston Democrat who chairs the committee. “You pay now, or you pay later,” he said, adding that “later” could mean with one’s life. 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. Now, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards wants to make new intake forms so simple for jail staff that it would be a troubling if they need further training on how to use it, said Brandon Wood, the commission’s executive director. The new form, which is under review, would keep questions such as “Are you thinking about killing yourself today?” but add specific directions for what a staff member should do depending on how an inmate responds. “It’s an improvement,” Whitmire said, but “it’s only as good as the person asking the questions. You have to take your time, have people skills.” That’s where training comes in, which is minimal at best in most jurisdictions – especially in rural Texas, officials said.

Diversion, the overwhelmingly preferred treatment for low-level offenders with mental health problems would work best with coordination among mental health authorities, law enforcement, jails and courts, lawmakers said. Charles Perry, R–Lubbock, injected caution throughout the hearing, warning that the state risks having a knee-jerk reaction to high-profile cases such as Bland’s and not seeing that protocol is not the enemy.

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