Since July, Sandra Bland’s name has been on the lips of many in the Black Lives Matter movement and others who believe her death remains suspicious. While her death has been ruled a suicide, some interesting changes have taken place that will shine a light on her life and the tragedy of her death.
Although he didn’t point to Bland’s death specifically, Texas Lieutenant Governor, Dan Patrick announced last week that hearings will be held to investigate jailhouse suicides. The committee will be chaired by state senator, John Whitmire. Including Bland, there have been 29 jailhouse deaths ruled as suicide this year.
Bail reform is also on the lips of some Texans these days. An active coalition of 25 organizations have begun working with legislators to reform bail procedures in Harris County (which is adjacent to Waller County where Bland was held) and throughout the state of Texas. According to some reports, as many as 400 people are in jail now awaiting trial for misdemeanors. Many of these people are poor and have no means with which to secure their freedom. Bland was detained on $5,000 bail. Her bond was set at $500 and was never posted.
With this many people incarcerated awaiting bail and/or hearings in their cases, Harris County jails are overextended and resources are lacking, including access to health care and counseling.
In addition to the jail suicide hearings and bail reform advocacy, Bland’s name will also be spoken by those who drive down the street leading to her alma mater, Prairie View A&M. The Prairie View City Council voted on August 25 to rename the street “Sandra Bland Parkway.” What is now University Boulevard is a major street in Prairie View and the decision to rename it is not without opposition. There are some of the town’s 6,000 residents who feel Bland is undeserving of the honor. Still others feel this is the very least that can be done to honor her, citing the reality that justice for Bland will never be served.
At the time of her death, Bland had recently moved to the area to accept a position at Prairie View A&M. She was only 28.