Sandra Bland Act to impact local jails

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A new act is awaiting approval before officially impacting how county jails work. 

The Sandra Bland Act, named after a woman who died in police custody in 2015, is focused on changing the way police and civilians interconnect. 

The Texas Senate and The House approved the act in May and has since sent its version to Gov. Greg Abbot for final approval. 

The act will mandate law enforcement agencies to investigate any deaths or serious injuries that happen inside jails. 

“We have nothing to hide, we welcome outside agencies with open arms and this act will just confirm what we already know,” said Capt. Byron Shelton who is in charge of the Bell County Jail. 

The act also allows inmates access to mental health care if they need it. 

“We have mental health staff now eight hours a day, every day, so basically this is just another way to try to assist people before they go into crisis,” said Shelton, “Our staff is ready and our job is to take care of people care in custody. At this point in the stage of corrections it’s about people not punishment.” 

The act comes after 28-year-old Illinois woman Sandra Bland was pulled over in Prarie View by then Texas DPS Trooper Brian Encinia after Bland failed to signal a lane change. 

Dash Cam footage shows Encinia and Bland arguing shortly before arresting Bland and taking her to jail where she died three days later. 

Officials ruled Bland’s death a suicide however, Sandra’s family doesn’t buy it. 

Now, two years later Senate Bill 1849 will require counseling and training for officers who racially profiled drivers and prohibit alleged ‘pretext stops’. 

“This will only better us,” said Shelton ,”Yes, we will need additional training and our staff will need to under go that but whenever you give someone training in whatever job they may have it will always make for better employment and we will find ways to make the training not only good, but enjoyable so I think the staff will benefit from this as well.”

Representative Garnet Coleman who unveiled the act back in March said, “This will truly make Texas safer for both law enforcement and the public.” 

For the latest changes on The Sandra Bland Act, visit here

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