Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and CBC Members Seek Justice for Sandra Bland
For Immediate Release Contact: Mike McQuerry
January 15, 2016 (202) 225-3816
CBC Members Seek Justice for Sandra Bland
HOUSTON, TEXAS – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, together with CBC Chairman G.K. Butterfield (NC-01) and Congresswoman Robin Kelly (IL-02) issued the following statement in response to a letter signed by Congressional Black Caucus Members urging the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the death of Sandra Bland and the conduct of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Waller County Jail, where she died:
“In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, 40 Members of the Congressional Black Caucus seek justice for Sandra Bland, the young woman from Chicago, IL who traveled to Texas to start a new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University, but was stopped by a Texas State Trooper for allegedly failing to signal a lane change, violently arrested for allegedly being uncooperative, and was then found hanging in a Waller County jail cell three days following her arrest. The CBC Members call upon the Department of Justice to conduct investigations into the disturbing circumstances of her death, the pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing by the DPS, and the unconstitutional jail conditions and practices of the Waller County Jail.
The tragic and shocking death of Sandra Bland, and failed responses of local officials to provide answers or take appropriate corrective action, demand the attention of the Justice Department,” said Congresswoman Jackson Lee. “I am grateful to be joined by my colleagues and fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus as we ask the Department of Justice to take a closer look into a case that shaken the nation and continues to dismantle public trust in our criminal justice system. We have an obligation to the American people to maintain transparency in our federal system and to respond appropriately when citizens raise questions. With this request, I remain hopeful that the principles we rely upon and live by will prevail in exposing and uprooting any and all bad actors, policies, practices, or cases that have resulted in unlawful and unjust loss of liberty and life. We must continue to say her name and fight for justice.”
“The gross misconduct by law enforcement officials relative to the arrest of Sandra Bland is troubling to many of us,” said CBC Chairman G. K. Butterfield. “There is no doubt that law enforcement’s deplorable treatment of Ms. Bland during her arrest and confinement directly contributed to her untimely death. That’s why members of the Congressional Black Caucus are calling for a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death. Our country’s criminal justice system faces a number of challenges and without significant reforms, including better training for law enforcement officials in identifying mental illness, we are concerned that victims like Ms. Bland will continue to fall through the cracks.”
“The murky circumstances surrounding Sandra Bland’s arrest and subsequent death present many troubling questions that the Bland family and the broader community deserve answers to,” said Congresswoman Robin Kelly. “A pattern and practice investigation is needed in order to ensure that those answers are true, acc
urate and unbiased and that appropriate steps are taken to prevent an incident like this from recurring in the future.”
Congresswoman Jackson Lee is a Democrat from Texas’s 18th Congressional District. She is a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary and Homeland Security and is Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.