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Family of Sandra Bland settles its lawsuit

I hope this brings them some peace, but more importantly I hope it leads to fewer inmate deaths, in Waller County and elsewhere.

Sandra Bland

The family of Sandra Bland — who died last year in a Waller County Jail cell — has reached a settlement with Texas officials in a wrongful death lawsuit, a lawyer for the family said Thursday.

Waller County and the Texas Department of Public Safety will pay the family a total of $1.9 million and the county has agreed to policy changes, according to attorney Cannon Lambert. The terms were finalized Wednesday, Lambert said.

[…]

Terms of the settlement:

  • Waller County will pay the family $1.8 million. The Texas Department of Public Safety will pay the family $100,000.
  • “To prevent future document falsifications, Waller County jail will use automated electronic sensors to ensure accurate and timely cell checks.”
  • “From here forward, Waller County jail will now provide an on-duty nurse or EMT for all shifts.”
  • “The Waller County Judge pledges to actively seek passage of state legislation providing for more funding for jail intake, booking, screening training and other jail support like telemedicine access for Texas county jails AND HE SUPPORTS HAVING ANY RESULTING LEGISLATION NAMED IN SANDRA BLAND’S HONOR!”
  • “The Waller County Sheriff’s Office shall provide additional jailer training (including ongoing continuing education) on booking and intake screening.”

“The case is settled in its entirety,” Lambert said, but “this is the beginning, not the end.”

Lambert said Bland’s mother is pleased with the settlement “particularly because of the non-economic components.”

See here for all prior bogging on this. I too hope this is a beginning and not an end. “No more inmate deaths” is a goal we should have as a society, and while we’ll never get there, we should do all we can to get as close as we can. Grits for Breakfast, which goes into detail on the terms of the settlement, ThinkProgress, the Current, and the Press have more.

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12 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    How will having a nurse and electronic cell checks help prevent another inmate from getting murdered? She was murdered. I know this because the family that didn’t have 500 bucks when it mattered told us so.

    Seriolusly, though, I think she deserved a little money from the DPS for false arrest, but suicide in jail? The taxpayers just got soaked for nothing. A woman with poor life coping skills plus a history of bad decisions and that attitude would have eventually killed herself sooner or later anyway. It just happened to be in the Waller County Jail, and that is NOT Waller County’s fault, even though I don’t believe she deserved to be in jail in the first place.

  2. Steve Houston says:

    The family only cared about her when it meant a payday, a harsh reality supported by their actions. As such, any judgement should go to fixing the very real problems uncovered in the process. Putting aside that she was charged with assaulting the trooper and brought to jail for that reason, the county should have taken her erratic answers to questions as a sign of mental illness and they should have followed their own policy of physically checking on inmates every hour.

    The electronic checks are similar to those used by security companies that force the guard to “check in” at various spots in a location rather than just randomly walk around. It also provides a detailed log and proves compliance. Frankly, I’d be a lot happier with the deal if the money went to installing such devices in Waller county and surrounding area jails than going to the family but having an EMT or nurse should be mandatory regardless.

  3. Jules says:

    There is zero proof she assaulted an officer.

    The only evidence that she did so is the word of a man who has been charged with perjury in that very incident.

  4. Steve Houston says:

    Jules, a witness for the state equates to “evidence”, no matter how flawed you may feel he is. After all, he has not had his day in court so he remains innocent of the charge against him, the political expediency of said charge a factor as well. And to mention it yet again, she would not have been eligible for a PR bond given her extensive criminal history and fines still outstanding under any of the proposals suggested so far.

  5. Jules says:

    The fines against her are much of what is wrong with our legal system.

  6. Steve Houston says:

    Jules, that is certainly one way of looking at the two dozen criminal violations she collected over the years. Peace!

  7. […] Steve Houston on Family of Sandra Bland settles its lawsuit […]

  8. Jules says:

    Most of those violations/fines appear to be for being poor.

  9. Jules says:

    When you criminalize being poor, the poor become criminals.

  10. Steve Houston says:

    Jules, given she would repeatedly receive tickets for going 20 or 25+ miles over the limit, driving under the influence, drug charges, and even theft, I think you’re mistaken regarding your attempt to pawn off her history as a result of “being poor”. The various failure to appear charges were not due to being poor either, as long as she showed up to court in all those jurisdictions, she would’ve been okay.

    I admit that I find it quite curious the the only area of the country that the mainstream media did not report on her criminal history in detail was locally. Further, this was the only part of the country where the highly paid expert (Professor Goff) on racial profiling’s report was not covered as it was elsewhere, the report showing the trooper did not show any pattern of racial profiling (from a guy well known for finding such in every other case he has looked at, his status as the president for the center of policing equity not without reason). Coincidence?

  11. Jules says:

    I saw the video. That guy should not be a cop.

  12. Steve Houston says:

    Jules, we can agree on that at least. My points of contention with this entire matter have never suggested otherwise but on the other hand, the claims he engaged in racial profiling were proven to be lies, the claims she should be a poster child of bail reform fall way short, and the suggestions that her encounters with the law were based on her poverty are also false. Conversely, better treatment for the mentally ill and less reliance on social media to fuel faux outrage were proven. 🙂