Attorneys Representing Police Misconduct Victims Across Texas
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Police Misconduct Lawyer Plano, Texas – The Sandra Bland Act is Now Law, and County Jails Prepare for New RulesMonday, June 19th, 2017
On Thursday, June 15, 2017, a law requiring county jails to provide inmates who may have mental health problems with treatment was signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. The legislation is known as the Sandra Bland Act. It was named after a 28-year-old woman who was famously pulled over in Waller County for an alleged minor traffic violation, and the police officer’s dash cam captured a controversial exchange between them. They ended up in an off-camera scuffle. She was arrested for alleged assault of a police officer. Bland was discovered hanging in her jail cell three days later. Her death was ruled a suicide. After her death, it was found that she may have been suffering from various health issues, including depression.
The Senate version of the bill was sponsored by Democrat Senator John Whitmire and was written by Democrat Representative Garnet Coleman. According to Coleman, in the past year in Texas county jails, 26 people have committed suicide.
The problem of jail suicide deaths is addressed in the new law. Jail employees are required to be provided with more de-escalation and mental health training. Local sheriff’s departments are now required to inform a judge within 12 hours if an individual in their custody is possibly dealing with mental disability or a mental health issue of some kind. Previously, deputies had a 3-day period in which to provide the same type of notification. In addition to quickly notifying a judge, a mental health professional must examine the individual, who may possibly be moved to a mental health facility.
In Bell County, Texas, things are in motion to ensure that the jail staff has 24-7 access to a mental health expert, which may mean the use of a teleconference. Cpt. Byron Shelton of Bell County Jail said a county jail is not the place for people in mental health crisis.
Because of the Sandra Bland Act, counties have permission to develop new programs which will place people with mental illnesses into care facilities, including many homeless individuals, which is a much better solution than putting them behind bars.