In 2015, Sandra Bland was found dead at the Waller County jail, where she was being held after a traffic stop. The same correctional facility is in the news again after a Waller County inmate's death raised similar concerns as those that arose in Bland's case, as The Houston Chronicle reports.
Evan Lyndell Parker, who was being held at the Waller County jail as a murder suspect, died in the hospital two days after attempting suicide. Parker's death has raised questions about the jail's practices, specifically the frequency with which guards check on inmates, according to The Houston Chronicle. In December, an inspection of the jail found that jailers, who are supposed to observe the inmates face-to-face at least once an hour, had been waiting up to two and a half hours between observations.
Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith said that jail officials had been checking on Parker every 15 minutes, according to KPRC Click2Houston. Bustle has reached out to the Waller County District Court for comment.
"All I can say is, it's extremely unfortunate when it happens," Waller County Judge Trey Duhon told The Houston Chronicle. "Even with the best of precautions, it is always possible that somebody intent on taking their life could be successful. All we can do is make sure we meet guidelines and do the routine checks. At this point, it looks like that was done."
Smith told KPRC Click2Houston that Parker didn't show any signs that he was suicidal. According to The Houston Chronicle, jailers have to check on any prisoners who are mentally ill, who have exhibited bizarre behavior, or who are presumed to be potentially suicidal at least once every half hour. In the December investigation, it was revealed that jailers sometimes went beyond that limit by over an hour, as The Houston Chronicle reports.
This brings the tragic case of Sandra Bland's death back into the spotlight. Bland was arrested in 2015 after she failed to use her turn signal, and only days later was found dead in her jail cell in Waller County. Her death sparked the #SayHerName movement on social media, an offshoot of Black Lives Matter.
After Bland's death, an investigation into the jail found that officials at Waller County jail had missed signals that she was potentially suicidal — particularly the fact that she had disclosed a prior suicide attempt, according to The Houston Chronicle. The probe also found that Bland had not been monitored properly.
In response to critics arguing that Waller County jail still needed to improve its practices, Duhon told The Houston Chronicle that the county had already put a lot of effort into making conditions better for inmates.
"They're certainly entitled to their opinions, but anybody who wants to come down to our jail and see all the changes and processes we've made since 2015 is welcome to do that," Duhon said. "The self-checks are conducted with more frequency than ever before. We have medical staff. We spent a lot of time and money improving the situation at the Waller County jail."