The tragic story of Eileen DiNino, 55, who died in prison earlier this month while serving time for unpaid school fines continues to make news.
On Thursday, the ReadingEagle.com in Berks County, Pennsylvania reports that one of DiNino’s seven children is speaking out.
Mike Tobias, 28, is one of DiNino’s five sons. Tobias told the paper he is devastated by his mom’s death.
.“My brothers are dealing with her dying unexpectedly and they feel guilty enough that she was in jail for them,” Tobias said. “It was very unexpected.”
Authorities said that DiNino was jailed for two days to payback unpaid fines related to her children’s truancy. District Judge Dean Patton who sentenced DiNino said he lost sleep over her death in jail. Others said that extreme measures such as fines and the threat of a jail sentence is sometimes the only remedy that shocks irresponsible parents into making sure their children attend school.
DiNino’s cause of death is yet undetermined.
Judge Patton said was conflicted of the effectiveness of punishing parents for the lack of school attendance of their children. The judge noted that a short jail stint can sometimes “break the habit” of parents who would rather party into the night rather than take their kids to school the next day. She owed about $1,000 in fines.
CBS News reports, 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."
DiNino’s official obituary reads, “Eileen M. DiNino, age 55, of Reading, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday June 7, 2014 in the St. Joseph Medical Center, Bern Township, Reading.
She was born in Reading and was the daughter of the late Harry J. and Elizabeth M. (Zalesky) Bierman.
She leaves behind herchildren: sons: Michael Tobias, Ash, Brian andCharlie, Matthew, Justin DiNino, and Joseph Maisonet; her loving daughter, Erika Tarnoski; brothers Robert, David and Charl Bierman; a sister, Leslie Bierman, and 2 grandchildren.
Services for Eileen are being handled privately by her family. There are no calling hours.
In lieu of flowers, a trust has been established at The Fulton Bank, 210 North 5th Street, Reading, PA in memory of Eillen DiNino.
Stanton Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Inc., Honey Brook has been entrusted with the arrangements."
The obit is generating notes of sympathy from all around the country:
Here is what some posted wrote:
"Leslie & Family,
Our deepest sympathy to you and your family. I am so sad to hear this about Eileen. Remember all the good times we had growing up. She will be sadly missed. Take care !
~ Tracie Brown & Family, Reading, Pennsylvania
June 18, 2014"
"I didn't know her, but like so many strangers heard the tragic story of her passing. RIP. There are no words.
~ Jennifer D, California
June 17, 2014"
"My love and sympathies got to Eileen's children and family. Eileen is my sweet cousin and our families spent many wonderful times together as children.
Dee Purcell Castner
~ Dee Purcell Castner, Deptford, New Jersey"
The story of a woman dying in prison after being jailed for fines, is causing a lot of outrage on the Internet. Many are suggesting that it smacks of “debtor’s prison.” Others say the fines are necessary to get the attention of irresponsible parents. If you have an opinion about this case, please leave it below.