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Five Months After Sandra Bland Act Went Into Effect, What Has Changed?

A Texas legislative committee came to Houston to find out

The Texas House Committee on County Affairs, chaired by Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, (center) met at the University of Houston-Downtown on Feb. 6, 2018, to hear testimony on the implementation of the Sandra Bland Act.

The Sandra Bland Act requires jails to divert people with mental health issues so they receive treatment and to have an independent law enforcement agency investigating the deaths of its inmates.

It also mandates de-escalation training for Texas police officers and a mental health course for jailers.

“As of Jan. 1, all jailers beginning the licensing process have to get that eight-hour course as it’s being held right now in order to get licensed,” said Gretchen Grigsby, director of government relations at the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. She was one of five agency representatives who testified at the House Committee on County Affairs hearing held at the University of Houston-Downtown Tuesday.

Jailers who were on the job before that date have until Aug. 31, 2021, to take that course.

Of about 23,000 jailers in Texas, 1,000 have received mental health training, according to Brandon Wood, executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

“As of Jan. 1, each county has an assigned investigative agency other than themselves to conduct any custody investigations,” Wood added.

The Sandra Bland Act is named after an African American woman who committed suicide in the Waller County Jail a few days after being pulled over by a state trooper in 2015.

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters and the Houston Press Club. Florian is a native of Germany. His studies...

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