User Login    
 + Register
News : Mother, Jailed For Truant Kids, Found Dead In Cell
Posted by Randy on 2014/6/13 4:14:20 (394 reads) News by the same author

READING, Pa. (AP)- A Pennsylvania mother of seven died in a jail cell where she was serving a two-day sentence for her children's absence from school, drawing complaints from the judge that sent her there about a broken system that punishes impoverished parents.
Click to see original Image in a new window

Eileen DiNino, 55, of Reading, was found dead in a jail cell Saturday, halfway through a 48-hour sentence that would have erased about $2,000 in fines and court costs. The debt had accrued since 1999, and involved several of her seven children, most recently her boys at a vocational high school.

"Did something happen? Was she scared to death?" said District Judge Dean R. Patton, who reluctantly sent DiNino to the Berks County jail Friday after she failed to pay the debt for four years.

He described her as "a lost soul," and questioned Pennsylvanian laws that criminalize such lapses as truancy or failing to pay a trash bill.

"This lady didn't need to be there," Patton said. "We don't do debtors prisons anymore. That went out 100 years ago."

Her death is not suspicious, but the cause has not yet been determined, police said.

More than 1,600 people have been jailed in Berks County alone - two-thirds of them women - over truancy fines since 2000, the Reading Eagle reported Wednesday. Reading, the county seat, is about 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

"What you see is kind of a slice of inner-city life," said lawyer Richard Guida, who handled truancy cases, including DiNino's, as a Reading School District solicitor for more than a decade. "The people home taking care of the children are mothers. Many times, they're overwhelmed, and some of these kids are no angels."

Language barriers can also be an issue for letters and phone calls between the parents and school, given that the vast majority of the city and school population is Hispanic, he said.

The truancy fines themselves might be $75 or less. However, the debt can add up over court costs and fees. DiNino's court file shows a laundry list of court fees for one case alone: $8 for a "judicial computer project"; $60 for Berks County constables; $10 for postage. And she had been cited dozens of times over the years.

"The woman didn't have any money," said Diana L. Sealy, whose son married DiNino's daughter. "Years ago, I tried helping her out. She had all these kids."

Patton said he has lost sleep over her death. At the same time, he acknowledged that a short jail stint can sometimes "break the habit" of parents who'd rather party into the night than take their children to school the next day. The county started a program a few years ago that gives families 30 to 60 days to keep daily logs of each class and assignment. He estimated that the district truancy rate had dropped more than 30 percent.

DiNino did not work or appear to have much help with four children still at home, according to Patton. She frequently skipped hearings, or arrived without requested documents.

"She cared about her kids, but her kids ruled the roost," Patton said. "She was just accepting what was coming, and (would) let the cards fall where they may."

Although she was often unkempt, she came to court clean and neat to surrender Friday, he said. She had on clean sweatpants, had combed her hair, and had tape holding her glasses together.

"She was a different person. She was cleaned up, smiling," Patton said. "I think she realized, when this is done, the weight was off her shoulders."

Prison Warden Janine Quigley referred the newspaper's call to Berks County Commissioner Kevin R. Barnhardt, chairman of the county prison board.

"This woman died in prison, away from her family," Barnhardt told the Reading Eagle. "And for what?"

Printer Friendly Page Send this Story to a Friend Create a PDF from the article


Other articles
2014/10/31 7:40:47 - PSC Cold Weather Rule Takes Effect November 1
2014/10/31 7:33:53 - MoDOT To Hold Winter Readiness Drill
2014/10/31 6:31:42 - Trenton Police Department Offers Halloween Safety Tips
2014/10/31 4:35:51 - Halloween Is A Dangerous Night For Impaired Driving
2014/10/31 4:26:18 - Student Threatens To Bring Gun To School; Lack Of Communication Upsets Parents
2014/10/31 4:21:03 - Ameren To Lower Gas Rates For Missouri Customers
2014/10/31 4:12:03 - Elderly Man Shoots Woman Who Kicked In Door
2014/10/31 4:07:35 - Trenton Woman Arrested On Violation Of Probation
2014/10/31 4:05:02 - Unity Road To Be Closed For Railroad Crossing Work
2014/10/30 10:19:14 - 11 Men Sentenced In International Child Porn Ring
2014/10/30 10:07:13 - Plane Crashes Into Building At Airport In Wichita, Kansas
2014/10/30 9:22:06 - Grundy County Circuit Court News
2014/10/30 9:19:12 - Summit Natural Gas To Raise Rates
2014/10/30 9:13:29 - Chillicothe Police Make Additional Arrest In Drug Investigation
2014/10/30 4:40:00 - Mother Upset After School Vaccinates Her Child Without Her Permission
2014/10/30 4:36:29 - Illinois Teacher Calls Jamaican Students "N" Word After They Object To 'Afro-American'
2014/10/30 4:09:13 - Kirksville Teen Arrested For Child Molestation
2014/10/30 4:02:02 - Missouri Inmate Indicted For Killing Cellmate
2014/10/30 3:59:21 - Wentzville Parents Charged In 10-Week-Old's Death
2014/10/29 12:36:00 - "Mr. Mizzou" John Kadlec Passes Away at 86
2014/10/29 12:33:08 - NCMC Announces Cancellation of "Meet the Pirate" Night
2014/10/29 12:28:54 - Pre-Season Parent Meeting Approaches For THS Wrestlers
2014/10/29 12:24:51 - Alex Smith Suffers Shoulder Injury
2014/10/29 12:19:43 - 7th Heaven : Royals Push World Series To Dramatic Final Game
2014/10/29 10:40:56 - Health Fair To Be Held Saturday In Mercer County
2014/10/29 10:38:44 - Solar Farm, Electric Rates Topic Of Trenton Board Of Public Works
2014/10/29 10:36:41 - Program On Ebola To Be Presented Saturday In Chillicothe
2014/10/29 10:34:22 - Chillicothe Police Department Makes Arrests On Drug Charges
2014/10/29 7:33:09 - Ebola Containment Topic Of Local Emergency Planning Committee
2014/10/29 7:29:21 - NCMC Board Of Trustees Meeting Report



Bookmark this article at these sites

                   

Listen to KTTN-FM