Committee urges sweeping reforms at jail where Sandra Bland died

By: Michael McLaughlin, Reporter, Associated Press


Sandra Bland

This undated handout photo provided by the Waller County Sheriff’s Office shows Sandra Bland. The Texas Rangers are investigating the circumstances surrounding Bland’s death Monday, July 13, 2015 in a Waller County jail cell in Hempstead, Texas. The Harris County medical examiner has classified her death as suicide by hanging. She had been arrested Friday in Waller County on a charge of assaulting a public servant. (Waller County Sheriff’s Office, via AP)

Sandra Bland died by hanging in a Texas jail cell after a controversial arrest in which a state trooper threatened to use a Taser on her.
A committee reviewing the Texas jail where Sandra Bland died last year issued a report Tuesday calling for drastic changes, including the possibility of removing the sheriff’s department from overseeing the facility. The five-member committee, which included attorneys, a former congressman and a former judge, also recommended building a new jail in Waller County, bolstering screening for medical and mental health conditions, and outfitting officers with body cameras.
Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith and his department came under criticism after Bland, 28, was found hanging in her cell on July 13, 2015, three days after her arrest by a state trooper during a traffic stop. Her death was ruled a suicide, but her family alleges in a wrongful death lawsuit that the sheriff’s office didn’t properly care for Bland, who told jailers she had epilepsy and had previously attempted suicide. HuffPost has found discrepancies in records about her death.
The report said the current jail should be replaced because it falls short of safety and security standards. It also suggested using emergency medical technicians instead of deputies to screen inmates entering the jail, and having doctors remotely examine inmates and their health records. In addition, jail staff should be trained in anger management, the report said.

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