Legislative committee discusses criminal justice reform after Sandra Bland case

A legislative committee was listening to testimony Tuesday in Austin, discussing criminal justice reform.

AUSTIN, TEXAS - A legislative committee was listening to testimony Tuesday in Austin, discussing criminal justice reform.

The hearing comes after Sandra Bland was found dead last year in Waller County Jail. Her death was ruled a suicide. It also comes after the state and the county agreed to pay Bland's family almost $2 million and implement policy changes.

The Waller County Jail will now have an on-duty nurse, an emergency medical technician for all shifts and new mental health training for all jail staff.

But at Tuesday’s hearing, as soon as the Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety took the stand, it only took a few seconds for the meeting to turn contentious with questioning from committee chairman Houston Democrat Garnet Coleman.

The director acknowledged the officer who stopped Bland acted inappropriately, but said emphatically DPS focuses on behavior profiling and not racial profiling.

The committee also heard testimony from a statistical researcher who said racial disparities are real, meaning minorities are stopped far more frequently than whites.

He said he just couldn't conclude it was based on racial profiling.

Coleman has promised to introduce the Sandra Bland Bill. He's hoping it would apply the Waller County reforms to jailhouses statewide and establish new state police traffic stop policies for DPS.


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