Sandra Bland’s recent suicide in a Waller County, Texas jail has prompted a review of how police handle mental health issues of inmates.
Sandra Bland committed suicide by hanging herself in her cell with a plastic garbage bag on July 13th. On the initial booking questionnaire, Sandra Bland admitted to having attempted suicide before.
However, Sandra Bland was left unsupervised in her cell.
Officials announced the review on Tuesday, but Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick did not specifically mention the name of Sandra Bland as a catalyst.
Patrick said that the new Senate committee is not focused on any one particular death.
When the question arose of whether or not Sandra Bland’s relatives, who have recently filed a lawsuit against the prison, the guards, and the arresting officer, would be involved, he didn’t directly answer.
However, the chairman of the committe, Senator John Whitmire, made it clear that it was because of Sandra Bland’s death that the review and the committee were formed.
He said, “There’s no question that Ms. Bland’s tragedy has led us to this point.”
Whether or not Sandra Bland’s family will be involved remains to be seen. But, there’s no doubt that her death still resonates with her friends and those inspired by her.
For example, in an interview done by Lena Dunham for the Los Angeles Times, a friend of Sandra Bland’s lamented the work that Bland intended to continue.
Bland was working on a project called Woman4Woman, which was devoted to empowering and encouraging women around the world to write and share their stories, good and bad.
Sandra Bland’s friend and co-founder of the project, Chenai Okammor, said, “Sandy was raised by a single mother with a bunch of sisters. And she said that when she was growing up, she held back her thoughts at times. What became clear to me as I met more with Sandra was that she was finding her own voice.”
She continued, “She once said to me, ‘I’m 28 and I’m just now beginning to identify what I stand for.’ When she started working on this project, I asked her what she wanted to accomplish with it. She said, ‘I want to be able to share my story with young women out there.’ Because she still thought she was alone in her quirkiness.”
She added, “She had such a commitment to having women tell their own stories, and she helped them talk about things they hadn’t talked about before.”
What do you think of the death of Sandra Bland inspiring a review of Texas jail policies?