On July 13, 2015, 28-year-old Sandra Bland was found dead in her cell at the Waller County jail in Texas, following her arrest three days prior on her way to a new job. A dashcam video of the arrest—which took place after Bland was pulled over by state trooper Brian Encinia for failing to signal a lane change—went viral and sparked outrage across the country. Bland’s death was ruled a suicide, and her jailers were blamed for not properly screening her despite the fact that she had described a previous suicide attempt on her intake form.
Here’s what has happened in the aftermath of her death, per The Marshall Project:
• Bland’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Encinia and the jail, with a trial scheduled for March.
• Encinia was fired after being indicted for perjury (a misdemeanor). He pleaded not guilty and is currently awaiting trial.
• Lawmakers in the Texas legislature—which meets again in January—are discussing changes to the handling of inmates with mental health problems and to the laws that currently result in people being arrested and jailed for minor infractions.
• County Sheriff Glenn Smith has vowed to change the Waller County jail’s treatment of people with mental illness and to train staff in de-escalation of tense situations.
• The state jail commission released new intake screening forms that offer more specific questions to help identify suicidal people. MB