Going to Jail Shouldn’t Mean Losing Your Rights…Or Your Life

Rachel Roth

An estimated five percent of the one million women incarcerated each year are pregnant when they enter jail. Cases of fatal medical neglect of incarcerated pregnant women highlight the need for protecting their health, rights, and lives.

The month of May brought two disturbing news stories that illustrate the needless and sometimes tragic suffering inflicted on pregnant women in jail. By suffering, I do not mean the deprivation of comfort and companionship that women might experience if they were at home instead of in jail. I mean the deprivation of basic constitutional and human rights, including the right to be treated as a human being. Without a baseline of respect for human dignity, being taken into custody puts people’s lives and rights in danger.

The first story makes this painfully clear in its recounting of the death of a young woman in jail. What makes this news all the more upsetting is that her death was preventable. The second story recounts an all too familiar struggle between a woman seeking to exercise her reproductive rights and a sheriff standing in her way. Together, both stories remind us of what is at stake when people are imprisoned, even for brief periods of time.

Pregnant Woman Dies of Medical Neglect

Whatever Chuniece Patterson and her family thought when she was arrested, they probably didn’t think that two days in the inaptly named “Justice Center” would result in her death. But that is just what happened to this 21 year-old African-American woman when she was arrested and jailed in Syracuse, New York.

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According to the news report Patterson found out that she was pregnant at the jail. This means that the staff knew she was pregnant, too. But they essentially ignored her symptoms of abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and weakness. Although nurses made three visits to her cell, and various deputies made rounds, no one provided meaningful medical assistance. A nurse who visited Patterson in her cell did not examine her abdomen or bring her to the medical unit for a pelvic exam. It does not even appear that she took her temperature or her blood pressure, which might have suggested signs of fever or internal bleeding (it “does not appear” because the nurse wrote her “observations” after the fact, after Patterson had already died). A woman in a nearby cell said that she could hear Patterson moan and see her writhe in agony throughout the night.

The jail deputy who surveilled Patterson’s cell on morning rounds ordered her to get up off the floor, but did not investigate why she was on the floor, even though she had been told that Patterson was having difficulties when she began her shift. In a report of her 7:30 a.m. stop at the cell, the deputy wrote: “I looked down at inmate Patterson, again told inmate to get off the floor. It looked as if the inmate looked at me. I continued with my tour.” One hour later, Patterson was pronounced dead at an outside hospital.

What is the standard of care in a situation like Patterson’s? Obstetrician Gerson Weiss describes it this way: Examine the woman’s abdomen and conduct a pelvic exam. These exams may result in pain, an indication to perform an ultrasound to determine whether the pregnancy is indeed outside the uterus. If this is confirmed, proceed to emergency surgery. The entire examination and diagnosis should take 5-10 minutes.

People who work in jails that hold women should be knowledgeable about pregnancy-related emergencies, including the signs of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, and premature labor. Even if no one knew anything about ectopic pregnancy, they might have wondered if Patterson had appendicitis or some other condition requiring immediate medical attention.

Patterson died in November 2009. The story is in the news now because her mother is planning to sue the county and a state commission is finalizing an investigation into the circumstances of her death.

A previous investigation found fault with the same jail in 1996, when a 36 year-old woman named Lucinda Batts died from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. In that case, Batts bled to death over several days. None of the medical staff who visited her cell went the next step to get her proper medical attention.

After Batts died, the county health commissioner promised to issue new standards to prevent such tragedies, including pregnancy testing – which the jail seems to be doing – and thorough examination and monitoring of pregnant women experiencing problems, better training of staff, and improved communication between jail nurses and on-call physicians.

The editorial board of the Syracuse Post-Standard takes the jail to task for its failures: “If the 1996 guidelines were implemented, why wasn’t Patterson’s health emergency caught in time? A second fatality due to an ectopic pregnancy after 14 years is not an epidemic. But it raises questions: Are the guidelines adequate? Have they lapsed? Or is another element still missing here — a lack of sensitivity to inmates’ distress, an attitude of skepticism or indifference among those responsible for their welfare?”

The editorial board’s perspective differs sharply from the perspective of some of its readers, judging from the comments people posted to the story. More than one blames Patterson – if she hadn’t gotten into trouble, then she wouldn’t have died in jail. One writer with eugenic and divine interventionist leanings wrote:  “In and out of jail? What kind of mother is that? Maybe this was gods way of saying it wasn’t meant to be.”

Several readers also commented that the jail staff may not have been able to tell the difference between someone who was suffering from internal bleeding and someone who was suffering from drug withdrawal. Rather than absolve anyone, these comments simply reinforce the need for proper medical evaluation. Abrupt withdrawal from heroin, for example, can be physically brutal and can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth if a woman is pregnant. No one who thinks a pregnant woman is withdrawing from drugs should leave her curled up in agony on the floor.

Sheriff Denies Access to Abortion Care

Across the country, a woman was trying to obtain abortion care from within the confines of the Parker County jail in Weatherford, Texas, about 30 miles west of Forth Worth.

The outlines of the story are familiar: A woman asks for an abortion, or asks to be taken to an appointment she has already made for an abortion. Jail personnel say no.

Then as also often happens, the woman or someone she knows contacts the ACLU, whose staff inform jail officials that 1) they are violating the woman’s rights and must transport her to a medical facility where she can exercise her constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy, and 2) they should implement a policy to deal with abortion requests in the future.

The sheriff in this incident said he was “a little bit flabbergasted” by the ACLU’s position: “My personal feeling is I don’t feel like the taxpayers of Parker County would think much of their sheriff spending taxpayer money to take people to abortion clinics. I don’t think they would want me to even entertain that notion.”

The sheriff’s personal feelings and his ability to gauge the sentiments of other Parker County residents, however, are simply not relevant. The courts have consistently held that women retain the right to have an abortion when they are incarcerated. No court has ever ruled that jails can simply ignore women’s requests for abortion care. This means that jails must take women to an appropriate medical facility, because they are not free to take themselves. As a judge explained in a similar case in Ohio, “The federal judiciary has detailed a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. The Sheriff might find such a right morally repugnant. Or he might find ignoring its existence politically expedient.  Nevertheless, [the Sheriff has taken…] a solemn oath to support the Constitution,” and that includes accommodating the reproductive rights of women in his custody [see Roe v. Leis, No. C-1-00-651, 2001 WL 1842459 (S.D. Ohio Jan. 10, 2001)].

The executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, as well as the sheriff and a spokesperson for nearby Tarrant County, said they could not recall the issue of abortion coming up before in the Texas jails.

But the issue has come up a number of times, including at least twice in Tarrant County. Women have gone to court to fight for their rights and the Texas press has covered their stories. The Jails Commission has had ample time to develop a standard on abortion access that would provide guidance to the many jail administrators throughout the state.

Ultimately, this conflict ended when the jail released the woman after a court dealt with the charges against her. This leaves her free to make and carry out her own decision. It leaves other women in the position of having to go through the exact same process of finding outside help, unless the sheriff adopts a policy that upholds their rights.

Many Women at Risk

More than a million women spend time in jail each year. An estimated five percent of them are pregnant when they enter jail. These two incidents of fatal medical neglect and interference with reproductive decisions crystallize how vulnerable women are to the institutional shortcomings in the nation’s vast jail system, and highlight the need for far greater oversight to protect women’s health, rights, futures, and very lives.

Analysis Abortion

‘Pro-Life’ Pence Transfers Money Intended for Vulnerable Households to Anti-Choice Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Jenn Stanley

Donald Trump's running mate has said that "life is winning in Indiana"—and the biggest winner is probably a chain of crisis pregnancy centers that landed a $3.5 million contract in funds originally intended for poor Hoosiers.

Much has been made of Republican Gov. Mike Pence’s record on LGBTQ issues. In 2000, when he was running for U.S. representative, Pence wrote that “Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexual’s [sic] as a ‘discreet and insular minority’ [sic] entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities.” He also said that funds meant to help people living with HIV or AIDS should no longer be given to organizations that provide HIV prevention services because they “celebrate and encourage” homosexual activity. Instead, he proposed redirecting those funds to anti-LGBTQ “conversion therapy” programs, which have been widely discredited by the medical community as being ineffective and dangerous.

Under Pence, ideology has replaced evidence in many areas of public life. In fact, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has just hired a running mate who, in the past year, has reallocated millions of dollars in public funds intended to provide food and health care for needy families to anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers.

Gov. Pence, who declined multiple requests for an interview with Rewire, has been outspoken about his anti-choice agenda. Currently, Indiana law requires people seeking abortions to receive in-person “counseling” and written information from a physician or other health-care provider 18 hours before the abortion begins. And thanks, in part, to other restrictive laws making it more difficult for clinics to operate, there are currently six abortion providers in Indiana, and none in the northern part of the state. Only four of Indiana’s 92 counties have an abortion provider. All this means that many people in need of abortion care are forced to take significant time off work, arrange child care, and possibly pay for a place to stay overnight in order to obtain it.

This environment is why a contract quietly signed by Pence last fall with the crisis pregnancy center umbrella organization Real Alternatives is so potentially dangerous for Indiana residents seeking abortion: State-subsidized crisis pregnancy centers not only don’t provide abortion but seek to persuade people out of seeking abortion, thus limiting their options.

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“Indiana is committed to the health, safety, and wellbeing [sic] of Hoosier families, women, and children,” reads the first line of the contract between the Indiana State Department of Health and Real Alternatives. The contract, which began on October 1, 2015, allocates $3.5 million over the course of a year for Real Alternatives to use to fund crisis pregnancy centers throughout the state.

Where Funding Comes From

The money for the Real Alternatives contract comes from Indiana’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, a federally funded, state-run program meant to support the most vulnerable households with children. The program was created by the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act signed by former President Bill Clinton. It changed welfare from a federal program that gave money directly to needy families to one that gave money, and a lot of flexibility with how to use it, to the states.

This TANF block grant is supposed to provide low-income families a monthly cash stipend that can be used for rent, child care, and food. But states have wide discretion over these funds: In general, they must use the money to serve families with children, but they can also fund programs meant, for example, to promote marriage. They can also make changes to the requirements for fund eligibility.

As of 2012, to be eligible for cash assistance in Indiana, a household’s maximum monthly earnings could not exceed $377, the fourth-lowest level of qualification of all 50 states, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. Indiana’s program also has some of the lowest maximum payouts to recipients in the country.

Part of this is due to a 2011 work requirement that stripped eligibility from many families. Under the new work requirement, a parent or caretaker receiving assistance needs to be “engaged in work once the State determines the parent or caretaker is ready to engage in work,” or after 24 months of receiving benefits. The maximum time allowed federally for a family to receive assistance is 60 months.

“There was a TANF policy change effective November 2011 that required an up-front job search to be completed at the point of application before we would proceed in authorizing TANF benefits,” Jim Gavin, a spokesman for the state’s Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA), told Rewire. “Most [applicants] did not complete the required job search and thus applications were denied.”

Unspent money from the block grant can be carried over to following years. Indiana receives an annual block grant of $206,799,109, but the state hasn’t been using all of it thanks to those low payouts and strict eligibility requirements. The budget for the Real Alternatives contract comes from these carry-over funds.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, TANF is explicitly meant to clothe and feed children, or to create programs that help prevent “non-marital childbearing,” and Indiana’s contract with Real Alternatives does neither. The contract stipulates that Real Alternatives and its subcontractors must “actively promote childbirth instead of abortion.” The funds, the contract says, cannot be used for organizations that will refer clients to abortion providers or promote contraceptives as a way to avoid unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

Parties involved in the contract defended it to Rewire by saying they provide material goods to expecting and new parents, but Rewire obtained documents that showed a much different reality.

Real Alternatives is an anti-choice organization run by Kevin Bagatta, a Pennsylvania lawyer who has no known professional experience with medical or mental health services. It helps open, finance, and refer clients to crisis pregnancy centers. The program started in Pennsylvania, where it received a $30 million, five-year grant to support a network of 40 subcontracting crisis pregnancy centers. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale called for an audit of the organization between June 2012 and June 2015 after hearing reports of mismanaged funds, and found $485,000 in inappropriate billing. According to the audit, Real Alternatives would not permit DHS to review how the organization used those funds. However, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in April that at least some of the money appears to have been designated for programs outside the state.

Real Alternatives also received an $800,000 contract in Michigan, which inspired Gov. Pence to fund a $1 million yearlong pilot program in northern Indiana in the fall of 2014.

“The widespread success [of the pilot program] and large demand for these services led to the statewide expansion of the program,” reads the current $3.5 million contract. It is unclear what measures the state used to define “success.”


“Every Other Baby … Starts With Women’s Care Center”

Real Alternatives has 18 subcontracting centers in Indiana; 15 of them are owned by Women’s Care Center, a chain of crisis pregnancy centers. According to its website, Women’s Care Center serves 25,000 women annually in 23 centers throughout Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Women’s Care Centers in Indiana received 18 percent of their operating budget from state’s Real Alternatives program during the pilot year, October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015, which were mostly reimbursements for counseling and classes throughout pregnancy, rather than goods and services for new parents.

In fact, instead of the dispensation of diapers and food, “the primary purpose of the [Real Alternatives] program is to provide core services consisting of information, sharing education, and counseling that promotes childbirth and assists pregnant women in their decision regarding adoption or parenting,” the most recent contract reads.

The program’s reimbursement system prioritizes these anti-choice classes and counseling sessions: The more they bill for, the more likely they are to get more funding and thus open more clinics.

“This performance driven [sic] reimbursement system rewards vendor service providers who take their program reimbursement and reinvest in their services by opening more centers and hiring more counselors to serve more women in need,” reads the contract.

Classes, which are billed as chastity classes, parenting classes, pregnancy classes, and childbirth classes, are reimbursed at $21.80 per client. Meanwhile, as per the most recent contract, counseling sessions, which are separate from the classes, are reimbursed by the state at minimum rates of $1.09 per minute.

Jenny Hunsberger, vice president of Women’s Care Center, told Rewire that half of all pregnant women in Elkhart, LaPorte, Marshall, and St. Joseph Counties, and one in four pregnant women in Allen County, are clients of their centers. To receive any material goods, such as diapers, food, and clothing, she said, all clients must receive this counseling, at no cost to them. Such counseling is billed by the minute for reimbursement.

“When every other baby born [in those counties] starts with Women’s Care Center, that’s a lot of minutes,” Hunsberger told Rewire.

Rewire was unable to verify exactly what is said in those counseling sessions, except that they are meant to encourage clients to carry their pregnancies to term and to help them decide between adoption or child rearing, according to Hunsberger. As mandated by the contract, both counseling and classes must “provide abstinence education as the best and only method of avoiding unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.”

In the first quarter of the new contract alone, Women’s Care Center billed Real Alternatives and, in turn, the state, $239,290.97; about $150,000 of that was for counseling, according to documents obtained by Rewire. In contrast, goods like food, diapers, and other essentials for new parents made up only about 18.5 percent of Women’s Care Center’s first-quarter reimbursements.

Despite the fact that the state is paying for counseling at Women’s Care Center, Rewire was unable to find any licensing for counselors affiliated with the centers. Hunsberger told Rewire that counseling assistants and counselors complete a minimum training of 200 hours overseen by a master’s level counselor, but the counselors and assistants do not all have social work or psychology degrees. Hunsberger wrote in an email to Rewire that “a typical Women’s Care Center is staffed with one or more highly skilled counselors, MSW or equivalent.”

Rewire followed up for more information regarding what “typical” or “equivalent” meant, but Hunsberger declined to answer. A search for licenses for the known counselors at Women’s Care Center’s Indiana locations turned up nothing. The Indiana State Department of Health told Rewire that it does not monitor or regulate the staff at Real Alternatives’ subcontractors, and both Women’s Care Center and Real Alternatives were uncooperative when asked for more information regarding their counseling staff and training.

Bethany Christian Services and Heartline Pregnancy Center, Real Alternatives’ other Indiana subcontractors, billed the program $380.41 and $404.39 respectively in the first quarter. They billed only for counseling sessions, and not goods or classes.

In a 2011 interview with Philadelphia City Paper, Kevin Bagatta said that Real Alternatives counselors were not required to have a degree.

“We don’t provide medical services. We provide human services,” Bagatta told the City Paper.

There are pregnancy centers in Indiana that provide a full range of referrals for reproductive health care, including for STI testing and abortion. However, they are not eligible for reimbursement under the Real Alternatives contract because they do not maintain an anti-choice mission.

Parker Dockray is the executive director of Backline, an all-options pregnancy resource center. She told Rewire that Backline serves hundreds of Indiana residents each month, and is overwhelmed by demand for diapers and other goods, but it is ineligible for the funding because it will refer women to abortion providers if they choose not to carry a pregnancy to term.

“At a time when so many Hoosier families are struggling to make ends meet, it is irresponsible for the state to divert funds intended to support low-income women and children and give it to organizations that provide biased pregnancy counseling,” Dockray told Rewire. “We wish that Indiana would use this funding to truly support families by providing job training, child care, and other safety net services, rather than using it to promote an anti-abortion agenda.”

“Life Is Winning in Indiana”

Time and again, Bagatta and Hunsberger stressed to Rewire that their organizations do not employ deceitful tactics to get women in the door and to convince them not to have abortions. However, multiple studies have proven that crisis pregnancy centers often lie to women from the moment they search online for an abortion provider through the end of their appointments inside the center.

These studies have also shown that publicly funded crisis pregnancy centers dispense medically inaccurate information to clients. In addition to spreading lies like abortion causing infertility or breast cancer, they are known to give false hopes of miscarriages to people who are pregnant and don’t want to be. A 2015 report by NARAL Pro-Choice America found this practice to be ubiquitous in centers throughout the United States, and Rewire found that Women’s Care Center is no exception. The organization’s website says that as many as 40 percent of pregnancies end in natural miscarriage. While early pregnancy loss is common, it occurs in about 10 percent of known pregnancies, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Crisis pregnancy centers also tend to crop up next to abortion clinics with flashy, deceitful signs that lead many to mistakenly walk into the wrong building. Once inside, clients are encouraged not to have an abortion.

A Google search for “abortion” and “Indianapolis” turns up an ad for the Women’s Care Center as the first result. It reads: “Abortion – Indianapolis – Free Ultrasound before Abortion. Located on 86th and Georgetown. We’re Here to Help – Call Us Today: Abortion, Ultrasound, Locations, Pregnancy.”

Hunsberger denies any deceit on the part of Women’s Care Center.

“Clients who walk in the wrong door are informed that we are not the abortion clinic and that we do not provide abortions,” Hunsberger told Rewire. “Often a woman will choose to stay or return because we provide services that she feels will help her make the best decision for her, including free medical-grade pregnancy tests and ultrasounds which help determine viability and gestational age.”

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky told Rewire that since Women’s Care Center opened on 86th and Georgetown in Indianapolis, many patients looking for its Georgetown Health Center have walked through the “wrong door.”

“We have had patients miss appointments because they went into their building and were kept there so long they missed their scheduled time,” Judi Morrison, vice president of marketing and education, told Rewire.

Sarah Bardol, director of Women’s Care Center’s Indianapolis clinic, told the Criterion Online Edition, a publication of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, that the first day the center was open, a woman and her boyfriend did walk into the “wrong door” hoping to have an abortion.

“The staff of the new Women’s Care Center in Indianapolis, located just yards from the largest abortion provider in the state, hopes for many such ‘wrong-door’ incidents as they seek to help women choose life for their unborn babies,” reported the Criterion Online Edition.

If they submit to counseling, Hoosiers who walk into the “wrong door” and “choose life” can receive up to about $40 in goods over the course their pregnancy and the first year of that child’s life. Perhaps several years ago they may have been eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, but now with the work requirement, they may not qualify.

In a February 2016 interview with National Right to Life, one of the nation’s most prominent anti-choice groups, Gov. Pence said, “Life is winning in Indiana.” Though Pence was referring to the Real Alternatives contract, and the wave of anti-choice legislation sweeping through the state, it’s not clear what “life is winning” actually means. The state’s opioid epidemic claimed 1,172 lives in 2014, a statistically significant increase from the previous year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV infections have spread dramatically throughout the state, in part because of Pence’s unwillingness to support medically sound prevention practices. Indiana’s infant mortality rate is above the national average, and infant mortality among Black babies is even higher. And Pence has reduced access to prevention services such as those offered by Planned Parenthood through budget cuts and unnecessary regulations—while increasing spending on anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers.

Gov. Pence’s track record shows that these policies are no mistake. The medical and financial needs of his most vulnerable constituents have taken a backseat to religious ideology throughout his time in office. He has literally reallocated money for poor Hoosiers to fund anti-choice organizations. In his tenure as both a congressman and a governor, he’s proven that whether on a national or state level, he’s willing to put “pro-life” over quality-of-life for his constituents.

News Violence

Activists at Vigil Outside Waller County Jail: ‘Sandy Still Speaks’

Teddy Wilson

Mirissa Tucker, a senior at Prairie View A&M University, told Rewire that the vigil was to give voice to Sandra Bland and other victims of racism and police brutality. “Sandy still speaks,” Tucker said. “Sandy speaks through us at the Waller County jail.”

Black Lives Matter activists have held demonstrations this week in Waller County, Texas, to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of Sandra Bland on Wednesday. Their message: “Sandy still speaks.”

Bland was arrested on July 10, 2015, by Texas trooper Brian Encinia outside Prairie View A&M University, and three days later she was found dead in a Waller County jail cell.

The medical examiner ruled that Bland’s death was a suicide, but her family and supporters have questioned the state’s official findings.

Encinia has since been fired and indicted by a grand jury on perjury charges.

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Mirissa Tucker, a senior at Prairie View A&M University, told Rewire that the vigil was to give voice to Bland and other victims of racism and police brutality. “Sandy still speaks,” Tucker said. “Sandy speaks through us at the Waller County jail.”

Activists played a recording of Bland speaking through a loudspeaker during the vigil. Bland had been outspoken about issues of racism and police brutality prior to her death.

“White people, if all lives mattered, would there need to be a hashtag for Black lives mattering?” Bland asks in a video she posted on Facebook, which was played at the vigil. “We can’t help but get pissed when we see situations where it’s clear the Black life didn’t matter .… Show me in American history where all lives have mattered. Show me where there has been liberty and justice for all.”

Tucker said that she came to the vigil to “push through the fear” she has about racism and police brutality, because the issues are too important and require immediate action.

“Fear is not going to stop what is going on, fear is not going to overshadow the fact that people are dying, fear is not going to overshadow what we need to do in order to stop people from dying,” Tucker said to Rewire.

Bland supporters have spent three nights holding vigil outside the Waller County jail, until the exact time Bland’s body was reportedly discovered in a jail cell. Activists also gathered for a protest on the sidewalk along the street where Bland was arrested.

The street was renamed by the Prairie View City Council in April, and is now Sandra Bland Parkway.

Houston-based activist Cayenne Nebula spoke to those gathered on Sunday at 4:30 p.m., a year to the date that Bland was arrested. “She should still be here fighting with us. She should still be fighting this fight with us. She still has a voice in the community by us speaking for her,” said Nebula, reported KVUE.

The anniversary of Bland’s death comes in the wake of the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, Black men killed by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Falcon Heights, Minnesota, respectively.

Days later five police officers were shot and killed and nine others were injured, when a sniper opened fire during a Black Lives Matter demonstration.

“We get past a week like we just had and not only do we have to grieve those losses, but we still have to pay homage to Sandra Bland,” Tucker told Rewire. “There’s a lot on our plate when it comes to grieving, there’s a lot on our plate when it comes to remembering the lives that were lost.”  

Tucker says that’s why it’s important to remember Bland and the other victims of police brutality and racism. “We still haven’t forgotten about Sandra Bland,” Tucker said. “We still remember the legacy that Sandra left.”

The vigil at the jail ended Wednesday morning at approximately 9 a.m., the time when Waller County jail officials are said to have discovered that Bland had died in her cell.

A wrongful death lawsuit was brought by the family of Bland, and it was announced at a hearing in December that the trial would start on January 23, 2017.