The death of Sandra Bland is something that’s seared into the consciousness of Black Americans all across the country. From the extreme escalation of a routine traffic stop to the more than suspicious circumstances of her death, the brutality that she likely faced continues to haunt us. Perhaps nothing more sinister could have added to this story than a second death. Which has happened in the case of Evan Lyndell Parker, 34, who was found hanging in the same Texas jail cell where Bland was found in 2015. He was transferred a nearby hospital where he died two days later. According to reports by KHOU, Texas Rangers are now investigating Parker’s death as a suicide.
Parker was taken into custody at the Waller County Jail for murder and aggravated assault charges on January 10. Following the discovery of his body, the jail released the following statement: “There was an apparent suicide attempt at the Waller County Jail in the early morning hours of January 25, 2019. Upon discovery of the male inmate, he was rushed to the hospital in Houston where he is alive and being treated for his injuries. At the request of the Waller County Sheriff, the F.B.I. and the Texas Rangers have been asked to take the lead in the investigation surrounding the suicide attempt. At this time there is no information to show that any procedures or guidelines were not followed by the jail staff.”
Question: What are the odds of a second suicide taking place in the same jail let alone the same cell? At least 178 people have committed suicide in jail since 2011. 178. That’s about 22 suicides each year in America’s more than 5,944 jails and prisons. Meaning there’s a 0.37 percent chance of a suicide happening at any one institution. The stats make this man’s death actually being a suicide hard to swallow.
And if we’re supposed to accept the location and manner of both Bland and Parker’s deaths are a coincidence, why hasn’t the Waller County Jail done more to prevent suicides from happening? Why are guards not doing more frequent safety checks? And why can inmates still access potentially dangerous materials used for suicide?