Texas Jail Failed To Complete Mental Health Screening In Bland Case


The Waller County, Tx., Jail failed to complete a two-part mental health screening process required by state law during Sandra Bland’s booking process, according to the state jail commission and at a public policy group, the Texas Tribune reports. At a minimum, the 28-year-old who was found hanged on July 13 should have received a court-ordered mental health exam once she indicated she had tried to commit suicide in the past, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards said yesterday. “The commission believes that at the very least, given what was on the screening form, the magistrate should have been notified,” said Diana Spiller, a research analyst with the agency that oversees county jails in Texas. A standard background check of state records for a history of mental health issues also failed in the Bland case. Although that process might not have yielded information about Bland, its failure concerns state officials who are trying to determine what happened.

Capt. Brian Cantrell of the Waller County Sheriff’s Office said Bland was asked about her mental health two different times during her booking and she answered two different ways. Once she answered “yes” when asked about depression and attempted suicide, the jail should have notified a magistrate of the possible mental health issue under state law. The magistrate would then order a mental health professional to perform a more thorough exam. That did not occur. The second check is done by computer. Along with checking an inmate’s past criminal history, Texas jailers perform a Continuity of Care Query, or CCQ, by searching the state’s health department databases to determine if an inmate has received any Texas mental health services. “These are the things that are supposed to happen each and every time,” said Katharine Ligon of the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

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