Dozens of new laws took effect January 1st for the start of 2018. This includes new rules implemented to each Texas jail facility under Senate Bill 1849, also known as the Sandra Bland Act.
“One of the single greatest challenges we face in county corrections in the state of Texas and across the country is dealing with mental health issues and individuals suffering from significant mental health diagnosis,” Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe said.
SB 1849 is named for a woman who took her own life while in Waller County Jail in July 2015. Reports show she was arrested for a traffic stop by a Department of Public Safety trooper, who was later terminated.
Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill in July 2017. It was implemented in each state jail facility at the start of September, with new regulations taking effect on Monday.
“There is now a requirement for testing for individuals designated or appointed jail administrator at each sheriff’s office, as well as, an additional mental health training requirement for all licensed jail staff,” Rowe said.
Rowe told EverythingLubbock.com there are 1,170 inmates in the Lubbock County Detention Center as of Wednesday afternoon. He added 47% of those have reported receiving treatment for a mental illness before their arrests.
Overall, this helps prisoners get resources for their illness while incarcerated. New operations and monitoring have already been required by the State. However, now three new rules were added for inmates.
Documents show inmates with a mental illness will now immediately receive their prescription medication once they are booked into the system. The sheriff for each facility will have a new reporting system they must submit each month. As well as, an outside agency must be assigned to each jail to perform an investigation if an incident occurs.
“To have a staff that is more acutely aware and identifying those individuals, those characteristics and things that may be a problem ultimately trying to manage that individual throughout the entirety they’re spending in the county jail, that’s first and foremost,” Rowe said. “What to do and how to deal with each specific diagnosis.”
Rowe said mental illness is the leading issue with each county correction facility in Texas. He said he hopes this bill will help the issue.
Two more bills will take effect in the coming years: additional assessment of an inmate by an outside medical professional, and eight additional hours of training for each licensed jailor.