You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Sweeping arrest, jail reforms proposed with Sandra Bland Act


Highlights

Democrat says bill would protect police, the people they stop and the suspects they arrest.

The 2015 jailhouse death of Sandra Bland served as the catalyst for reforms, state Rep. Garnet Coleman says.

Using the 2015 jail death of Sandra Bland as a catalyst for change, a Houston Democratic legislator filed a sweeping criminal justice reform bill Thursday that would strengthen racial-profiling laws, prohibit jailing for fine-only offenses and limit police searches during traffic stops.

House Bill 2702, dubbed the Sandra Bland Act, is intended to improve the safety of police, the people they stop and the suspects they arrest and send to county jails, state Rep. Garnet Coleman said.

“This should make it safer for everyone,” he said at a news conference to unveil the bill outside the Texas Supreme Court building in downtown Austin.

STATESMAN SPECIAL REPORT: NOT SO BLACK AND WHITE

Bland was found hanged in a Waller County Jail cell three days after a routine traffic stop escalated into a confrontation with a Department of Public Safety trooper and led to her arrest. Had the reforms in HB 2702 been in place two years ago, Bland wouldn’t have died, Coleman said.

“It took us a long time to draft this piece of legislation,” he said. “We wanted to get it right.”

The 55-page bill would:

• Require law enforcement agencies to monitor traffic stops and individual officers to determine if a disproportionate number of racial or ethnic minority members had been pulled over. Officers found to violate profiling rules would receive additional training and counseling, with subsequent infractions requiring at least a six-month suspension.

• Require county sheriffs to prepare a monthly report on jailhouse suicides, attempted suicides, deaths, serious injuries, assaults, sexual assaults, escapes and use of force. Jail deaths would have to be investigated by an outside law enforcement agency appointed by DPS.

• Prohibit officers from stopping vehicles for a traffic violation as a “pretext” to investigate other crimes, unless there was a strong suspicion that another offense was committed. Vehicles couldn’t be searched based solely on the driver’s consent, and motorists also couldn’t be arrested for offenses punishable by only a fine.

• Require police officers to complete a longer, more in-depth course on de-escalation tactics when dealing with the public, including techniques for limiting the use of force.

• Direct the Commission on Jail Standards to set jail rules on using force, preventing sexual assault, managing intoxicated inmates and ensuring that inmates continue receiving prescribed medication, particularly for mental illness. Jails would be required to have 24-hour access to mental health professionals, in person or via telemedicine, and an on-duty nurse or emergency medical technician for all shifts.

• Encourage officers, in arrests involving nonviolent misdemeanors, to divert those experiencing a mental health crisis or suffering from substance abuse to a treatment center instead of jail.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Showers and thunderstorms predicted Sunday afternoon, evening

Central Texas will see mostly cloudy skies today, with a 40 percent chance of of showers and thunderstorms after 1 p.m., the National Weather Service says. Some of the storms could be severe. The high will be near 89, with heat index values rising as high as 97. Tonight’s forecast calls for a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, and...
Legislature approves strict caps for unpaid tolls
Legislature approves strict caps for unpaid tolls

The Texas House and Senate Saturday approved a compromise version of Senate Bill 312, the must-pass Texas Department of Transportation sunset bill, sending it on to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature. That final version of the bill, worked out by its sponsor Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, and a House-Senate conference committee in recent days...
Study: Dads’ brains respond differently to daughters than sons
Study: Dads’ brains respond differently to daughters than sons

Fathers with toddler daughters are more attentive and responsive to their needs than fathers with toddler sons, according to a study published in an American Psychological Association journal. >> Read more trending news  Behavorial Neuroscience journal. Fathers of young boys engaged in more rough-and-tumble play and used more achievement-related...
Girl turns Justin Trudeau’s office into a pillow fort
Girl turns Justin Trudeau’s office into a pillow fort

A 5-year-old girl who got to be prime minister for a day in Canada put Justin Trudeau to work, directing him in building a pillow fort, the Huffington Post reported. >> Read more trending news When Bella Thompson won a CBC Kids’ contest, she went to Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, and made her unique request. Trudeau obliged...
Father fashions feeding tube to match son’s
Father fashions feeding tube to match son’s

A Virginia man continues to show support for his young son, who was born with a congenital heart defect, by sharing a photo of himself and the 3-year-old boy wearing feeding tubes. >> Read more trending news Robert Selby, whose son Chace requires a feeding tube, fashioned one of his own and glued it on to match his son in the Instagram photo...
More Stories