User Login    
 + Register
PDQ Cleaning
News : Mother, Jailed For Truant Kids, Found Dead In Cell
Posted by Randy on 2014/6/13 4:14:20 (409 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
2014/11/27 4:42:24 - Harrison County Prosecutor-Elect Pleads Guilty In Theft Case
2014/11/26 10:12:40 - Amaren Files Application To Raise Charge On Bills
2014/11/26 10:08:15 - NCMC Board Of Trustees Meeting Report
2014/11/26 9:53:35 - Gallatin Residents To See Increase In Water Bills
2014/11/26 9:50:52 - No Green Card For Lauren Gray: Dancer Leaves For London Saturday
2014/11/26 9:45:04 - Trenton Man Sentenced To Five Years In Prison
2014/11/26 9:42:24 - Missouri Taxpayers Sue Nixon For Common Core Tests
2014/11/26 6:49:29 - Trenton City Council Meeting Report
2014/11/26 4:18:15 - Google's Latest: A Spoon That Steadies Tremors
2014/11/26 4:12:02 - The Forgotten First President (Hint: It wasn't George Washington)
2014/11/26 4:05:51 - Neighbors React To Permit For Controversial Hog Farm
2014/11/26 3:59:19 - Police: Teens Steal From Cancer Patient
2014/11/26 3:55:10 - Salvation Army Revisiting Policy After Family Turned Away Due To Age Of Son
2014/11/25 7:36:07 - University City, Mo. Officer Shot In Chest, Woman Dies
2014/11/25 6:24:44 - Cameron Man Injured In Single Vehicle Accident: Accused Of DUI
2014/11/25 6:22:00 - Lighting Contest To Be Held In Mercer County
2014/11/25 6:20:00 - NCMC Softball Signs Platte County Recruit
2014/11/25 4:35:59 - Man Fighting For His Life After Being Run Over At McDonald's Drive-Thru
2014/11/25 4:23:44 - 17-Year Old Suspect Charged With Murdering His Grandmother Pleads Insanity
2014/11/25 4:20:11 - Missouri Lottery Will Advertise In Fortune Cookies
2014/11/25 4:17:38 - 17-Year Old Arrested: Robbed Shop With Airsoft Gun
2014/11/25 4:09:06 - Family Upset Officers Used Deadly Force Against Suicidal Teen
2014/11/25 4:00:00 - Police: Video Of Officer Shooting 12-Year Old Boy Is 'Clear'
2014/11/25 3:59:18 - With No Indictment, Chaos Fills Ferguson Streets
2014/11/24 17:20:58 - Princeton Boys Seeded #2 For Albany Tournament
2014/11/24 16:50:00 - Milan To Open 2014-2015 Basketball Season At Novinger Tournament
2014/11/24 12:00:25 - Trenton Boys Sweep Cameron Jamboree, Prepare For East Buchanan
2014/11/24 11:32:36 - KC Chiefs Add Receiving Depth, Signing Jason Avant
2014/11/24 11:21:24 - Gallatin Girls, Trenton Boys Earn #1 Seeds At Gallatin Tourney
2014/11/24 10:52:24 - Michaelis Notches Career High 17, Mizzou Falls To #14 California



Bookmark this article at these sites

                   

Listen to KTTN-FM