Texas

Lawmakers From Houston Area Will Carry Bills To Reform Criminal Justice System In Texas

Representative Garnet Coleman is introducing one based on the Sandra Bland case.

Texas state representative Garnet Coleman will carry a bill that calls for ending investigative traffic stops, among other things.
Texas state representative Garnet Coleman will carry a bill that calls for ending investigative traffic stops, among other things.

Sandra Bland’s arrest in July of last year and her subsequent suicide in the Waller County jail have motivated state representative Garnet Coleman to introduce the Sandra Bland Act in the Texas Legislature, which will convene on January 10th.

Coleman is a Democrat who represents House District 147.

He says Bland’s case shows the need for reforms.

“First part is the investigative stop, or a minor traffic violation stop, moving to an escalation by the trooper, then having her put in jail, not getting a PR bond,” Coleman explains.

A PR bond is a personal recognizance bond, by which people can be released based on good faith, instead of having to pay cash.

Coleman also wants more training for officers to de-escalate potentially violent situations and better monitoring of inmates who are at risk of suicide.

Jon Taylor, chair of the political science department at the University of Saint Thomas, thinks Coleman’s bill could go far in Austin because there is a relative consensus among Texas lawmakers that some changes are needed.

“There is this argument that there needs to be a great concern on the part of law enforcement regarding de-escalation and diversion, particularly diversion before booking,” notes Taylor.

Coleman is also calling for the end of investigative stops in traffic situations, which he calls “the equivalent of stop and frisk in a car.”

Another lawmaker from the Houston area, State Sen. John Whitmire, a Democrat who represents Senate District 15, will carry a bill to make 9th grade students take a class about the duties and responsibilities of police officers and the rights of civilians.

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Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

Digital News Producer

Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz is originally from Madrid (Spain). He worked for several years in his home country and gained experience in all platforms of journalism, from wire services to print, as well as broadcast and digital reporting. In 2001, Al came to the United States to pursue a Master’s degree...

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