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#SandraBlandAct is good despite the many misses

Aug 9th, 2017 | Category: Lead Article

Grits for Breakfast brought our attention to an essay at Tribtalk on the Sandra Bland Act (SB 1849) that lays out the the success and failure of this legislation.

“The Life of Sandra Bland Embodied in Legislation”

by Fatima Mann

Despite the notable omission of ignoring the key issues in the Sandra Bland tragedy, the bill has some good stuff in it. Indeed, if not for the heightened expectations created by attaching Bland’s name to it, it would be hailed as more significant than it seems now in the context of her terrible case. Among the bill’s remaining provisions:

  • Law enforcement “shall” make a “good faith effort to divert” suspects in mental health crisis or suffering from the effects of substance abuse to a treatment center.
  • Authorizes “community collaboratives” to seek grant-funded opportunities to provide services to homeless people, substance abusers, and the mentally ill.
  • Requires the Commission on Jail Standards to create rules on medication continuity requiring jail inmates’ prescriptions to be reviewed by a qualified medical professional upon intake.
  • Requires TCJS to order an independent investigation by an outside law enforcement agency whenever someone dies in a Texas jail. (Between 2005 and 2015, Texas averaged 101 jail deaths per year, with a low of 83 and a high of 126, according to the Texas Justice Initiative.)
  • Orders TCJS to create a new examination for jail administrators.
  • Requires law enforcement officers to receive 40 hours of de-escalation training (some of which is great and some of which is apologia – will require oversight) and jailers must receive eight hours of mental health training.
  • Updates racial profiling data collection to include “warnings,” whether physical force was used, and report whether contraband was discovered during roadside searches. (New data collection begins in 2018.)
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