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Eileen DiNino, mother of 7, dies in jail for truancy fines: Questions unanswered

Berks County, Pennsylvania
Berks County, Pennsylvania website

Eileen DiNino of Reading, Pennsylvania was arrested and put in prison for a weekend after she couldn’t pay a $2,000 fine she had accumulated for her children’s truancy. The 55-year-old mother of seven children was to stay in custody for 48 hours but she was found dead in her cell on Saturday morning, June 7, the day after she was put in her cell, according to an earlier CBS News report. The incident in which the woman was found unresponsive, occurred in the Berks County Prison. The cause of her death is still unknown.

State legislators are now questioning why she was sent to jail as well as questioning how the woman died. Sen. Judy Schwank said that she cannot understand how someone ends up going to jail when she didn’t murder someone, didn’t steal, and did not commit a felony. The senator asked how jail time equate to resolving the particular problem that authorities had with DiNino. She said that she has questions as well as what happened to the woman in prison. She asked, “How did it happen that she passed away?”

Schwank suggested that perhaps the woman needed medical attention but did not receive it. Actually, it was reported that the woman who passed away was on high blood pressure medication and the prison officials did not issue her any medications while she was in the facility. As far as being incarcerated, the sentencing judge – District Judge Dean R. Patton - claims that, according to the law, putting DiNino is a jail cell for a couple of days was the only option for erasing the fines she had accumulated after her children had skipped school.

Since 1999, the woman had accumulated truancy fines that added up $2,000 previously mentioned. She had 55 violations against her in that her children had missed many school days. The judge claims that the state law allows five days in jail for each violation, and therefore the sentence given was lenient. In response to the woman’s death, Christian Leinbach – the County commissioner – said that this was all part of the law in Pennsylvania. According to Inquisitr, he said that the law is insanity. He asserted, “There has got to be a better way to deal with truancy than putting somebody in prison.”

There are many concerns remaining regarding DiNino’s death. There have been published reports still asking why she was jailed. Still lingering questions as to how she died. There is also a web page on Facebook called “Justice for Eileen DiNino.”

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