Texas

“Sandra Bland Act” Faces Uphill Fight In Texas Legislature

The criminal justice reform bill would outlaw certain law enforcement practices linked to racial profiling. The state’s largest police association has already come out against it.

Sandra Bland
Sandra Bland, who was found dead at the Waller County Jail on July 13.

State Rep. Garnet Coleman of Houston has introduced the “Sandra Bland Act” (HB 2702). The bill would mandate sweeping criminal justice reforms, including a crackdown on racial profiling.

Among other measures, the bill would ban so-called “pretext stops.” That’s the practice of a police officer stopping a car for an alleged traffic violation, in order to investigate another suspected, unrelated crime.

“Now that happened to me when I was growing up,” said Coleman, who introduced the bill on the steps of the Texas Supreme Court. “It’s not supposed to happen to my children. This is 30 years later. So that’s the reason why I think this is important, and that’s the reason the people standing here with me think this is important, because this led to a death that didn’t have to occur.”

In 2015, Sandra Bland, an African-American woman, was stopped in Prairie View by a white state trooper over a failure signal a lane change. The trooper arrested Bland. Three days later, she was found dead in her jail cell. The death, which Waller County authorities ruled a suicide, became a flashpoint in the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Sandra Bland Act faces a difficult road in the Republican-led state legislature. The Texas Municipal Police Association has already criticized the bill as misguided. The bill’s high number makes it unlikely the measure will make it through both houses before the end of the session in May.

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Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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