Texas Signs the Sandra Bland Act

In essence, the Sandra Bland Act is a legal measure that requires county jails to direct prisoners who have substance abuse and mental health issues to treatment for those issues. In addition, the Act mandates that independent law enforcement agencies investigate all deaths that occur in a jail setting.

The basis for these mandates stems from the death of Sandra Bland – a 28-year-old from the State of Illinois. Ms. Bland was an African American woman who was discovered dead (from an apparent suicide) while she was serving time in a rural county jail back in 2015. Her death occurred just a few days after police arrested her following a traffic stop. The arrest occurred after a long argument occurred between Ms. Bland and Brian Encinia, who was a Department of Public Safety Trooper at that time. The incident was also documented by the camera on the police officer’s dashboard. Following Ms. Bland’s death, her family heavily criticized the jail staff for failing to take action.

The Sandra Bland Act was passed, in part, to ensure that prisoners with mental issues are able to receive the help that they need. If you have been charged with a criminal offense, including one that stemmed from a traffic stop, it is important to have skilled legal representation on your side. The experienced Austin criminal defense lawyers at Granger and Mueller PC will investigate the circumstances of your arrest and determine if you have a legal basis to assert a defense.

Precursors to the Sandra Bland Act

In response to Sandra Bland’s death in county jail, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards offered a solution, by proposing a new intake process for inmates, in order to identify potential mental health problems. The bill that was ultimately introduced dealt with the issue of racial profiling at traffic stops and counseling for police officers. However, the Senate version of the bill did not contain the language involving de-escalation training for law enforcement and dealt primarily with mental health issues among inmates.

What Does the Sandra Bland Act Do?

In addition to making sure that prisoners who have substance abuse and mental health issues receive the treatment that they need, the Act also makes the following possible:

  • The availability of a bond (as opposed to a ‘hold without bail’) for individuals who suffer from a cognitive disability or mental illness
  • Investigations of all deaths that occur in the jail setting by an independent law enforcement agency

Call an Austin TX Criminal Defense Attorney Today About Your Case

If you have been charged with a crime in Austin – especially one that stems from a traffic stop – you may be able to assert a defense to your charge. The legal team at Granger and Mueller PC will look at all of your legal options and help you decide on the best course of action for your case, depending upon the circumstances. For a free legal consultation and case evaluation with an Austin criminal defense attorney, please contact us online today.