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 (418 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
2014/12/18 15:10:26 - 550 Million Year Old Fossils Provide New Clues about Fossil Formation
2014/12/18 15:10:00 - Daniel, Maclin, Coffman Highlight Mizzou's 2014 Hall Of Fame Class
2014/12/18 15:03:45 - Gallatin Man Organizing Regional Horticulture Conference
2014/12/18 14:58:51 - Upgraded Ketcham Center Set To Host 10th Annual Holiday Hoops
2014/12/18 14:48:10 - Royals Add To Pitching Staff, Signing Ex-Atlanta Brave Kris Medlen
2014/12/18 14:31:14 - Buchanan County Inmate Found Dead
2014/12/18 14:26:33 - Thursday Morning Accident Injures Jamesport Man
2014/12/18 12:30:00 - Ankle Bracelet Helps Police Catch Suspected Burglar
2014/12/18 12:27:33 - THS Freshmen Split With Cameron Dragons
2014/12/18 12:20:24 - Tri-County Conference Rivals Split Hoops Doubleheader
2014/12/18 12:15:46 - U.S. Officials Blame North Korea For Sony Hack
2014/12/18 12:06:48 - U.S. Kills Three ISIS Leaders in Iraq Strikes, Officials Say
2014/12/18 11:30:00 - Milan Wildcats Find Struggles At Knox County, Lose Stallbaumer To Injury
2014/12/18 11:28:41 - Hornets Stay Red-Hot, Sweep Macon
2014/12/18 11:21:10 - St. Joseph Truck Driver Convicted in Child Prostitution Case
2014/12/18 11:16:36 - Lafayette Girls Upend Hamilton, 45-40, Head To Trenton On Saturday
2014/12/18 5:50:00 - School Announcements For Thursday (7:41 AM Update)
2014/12/17 13:22:19 - Could Alcatraz Escapees From '62 Have Survived?
2014/12/17 13:10:28 - Waco, Texas Meteorologist Shot Outside TV Station
2014/12/17 13:10:00 - St. Joseph Mom Accused Of Starving Baby To Death
2014/12/17 11:20:00 - Trenton Bulldog Coaches Shows For Wednesday, 12/17/14
2014/12/17 10:16:42 - 19th Century Worth County Court Cases Added To Statewide Database
2014/12/17 10:10:30 - Livingston County Investigating Property Damage Reports
2014/12/17 10:02:39 - Hamilton Woman Wins NCMC Scholarship
2014/12/17 9:40:00 - Trenton Tames The Tigers, Awaits Gallatin Visit
2014/12/17 9:30:00 - KC Royals Officially Announce Kendrys Morales Signing
2014/12/17 9:10:00 - Trenton Police Department Begins Body Camera Usage
2014/12/17 8:43:30 - MCT Seeks Actors/Actresses To Perform "The Jungle Book"
2014/12/17 8:30:00 - Indiana Woman Wishes To Be Buried With Her Dog, But.........
2014/12/17 8:30:00 - Young Ohio Woman Continues Public Battle With Brain Cancer



Bookmark this article at these sites

                   

Listen to KTTN-FM