Lawmakers Look at Local Texas Jail ReformsPublished: Nov 16, 2016 in Criminal Defense
Multiple incidents in 2015 and 2016 have led lawmakers to realize the crucial need for jail and prison reform throughout Texas. The death of Sandra Bland within the Waller County Jail is one of those key incidents. Bland was stopped for a traffic violation, arrested for assaulting a public servant, booked in jail, and found dead in her cell three days later from an apparent suicide. Waller County and the Texas Department of Public Safety will pay the Bland family a total of $1.9 million as the result of a wrongful death case the family filed. The authorities have also agreed to certain reforms to ensure individuals within the jail are routinely checked and provided physical and mental health care when necessary. Some of these changes can be made at a local level in Waller County, but others need state-wide legislation. Texas legislators in the House Committee on County Affairs are already looking into potential Texas jail reforms.
If you were mistreated by the police during an arrest, booking, or while in jail, call Houston criminal defense lawyer Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767. Barnett has decades of experience as a Texas criminal attorney. He will listen to your story, analyze your situation to determine if your rights were violated, and explain your legal options.
Potential Texas Jail Reforms
State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Dist. 147, is chairman of the House County Affairs Committee and stated reforms needs to start with law enforcement training. Officers need to be trained to understand and confront both conscious and subconscious bias. They also need to be trained to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations. Coleman is also looking into banning pretextual stops by law enforcement, which are stops not based on probable cause.
While many changes need to be made to local law enforcement training to improve how stops are handled and rebuild the trust between communities and the police, reforms are needed within jails themselves. Considering the events surrounding Bland’s death, legislators are aware of the need for better mental health screening, inmate monitoring, and medical care within jails.
The House County Affairs Committee also discussed bail and pretrial detention practices throughout Texas in September.
When Will Reforms Happen?
The House County Affairs Committee met in September, but as of mid-October had no upcoming committee meetings scheduled. While reforms are in the forefront of many legislator’s minds, it will take time for the committee to conduct additional meetings and for any bills to pass through both the Texas house and senate. However, the push for reforms may start as soon as possible. Rep. Coleman has promised to introduce legislation, known as the Sandra Bland Act, during the next house session.
Call Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Ned Barnett for Help
While Texas jail reforms may be on the way, there are still many issues that can lead to you being treated poorly by the police and having your rights violated. If you were subject to discrimination or unfair treatment at the hands of law enforcement, do not hesitate to seek legal advice. Experienced Houston defense lawyer Ned Barnett understands how intimidating these situations can be. He has defended the rights of Texas citizens for more than 30 years and he will aggressively fight for your rights in court.