Sandra Bland’s death continues to reign as precedence in a systemically-corrupt justice system in terms of the darker communities. As of Thursday (June 15), Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ensured that the 28 year-old’s name would do the same on the state’s legislation. Abbott signed the Sandra Bland Act into law in order to address the ultimately-fatal circumstances that led to Bland’s death in July 2015.
The law addresses issues from mental illness, substance abuse, de-escalation training for officers, investigating jail deaths. But, Bland’s family is disappointed with, what they claim as “gut-wrenching” revisions to the soon-to-be law.
Bland’s sister Sharon Cooper expressed her dismay with the act in May, claiming, “It’s a complete oversight of the root causes of why she was jailed in the first place.”
The revisions that were removed included a requirement for additional proof for stopping and searching vehicles.
On July 10 in 2015, Bland was detained for initially being stopped for a traffic violation, which led to her denial of adhering to the officer’s request to put out her cigarette. She was forcefully removed from her vehicle and placed in jail with a $5,000 bond. In the three days following her arrest, Bland was found dead in her cell, with her death being ruled as a suicide.
While the Sandra Bland Act demands agencies investigate deaths that occur in correctional facilities, if a citizen is arrested for offenses punishable by a fine, they won’t be covered under the new law.
Even though Cooper claimed the act was a “missed opportunity,” Houston native and author of the act, Garnet Coleman, praises the passing of the piece of legislature, stating, “It is time that we make progress in criminal justice reform that will keep both law enforcement and the public safe and prevent future tragedies like Sandra Bland’s.” The democrat continues to confirm that the act, set to be in effect September 1, has “many measures that will make everyone safer.”