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Woman dies in prison: Mom of 7 put behind bars over debt, cause of death unknown

Woman dies in her prison cell, mother of seven in jail
Woman dies in her prison cell, mother of seven in jail
Wikimedia Creative Commons

A woman dies in prison because she was unable to pay her debts and continued accruing school fines, landing her in what would become the fatal slammer. The mom of seven children was first put behind bars for what she owed this week, and was later found dead in the very same cell. No evidence of foul play was discovered, though the cause of death remains unknown at this time. News Max describes the tragedy of this event this Thursday, June 19, 2014, and whether it was right to put this woman into jail in the first place.

Eileen DiNiro, a 55-year-old mom of seven kids, died in prison this week after being put behind bars for repeatedly not paying various fines. The Pennsylvania woman had apparently ignored her growing debt for years and was finally taken into custody after her owing totals reached over $2,000. Yet this tide of court costs and late payment fees should not have resulted in the mother dying, said one court judge.

According to the press release, the woman behind bars had a number of children still enrolled in school. Various reports cite that because she continually failed to get them to school — or even when bringing them, did so hours after classes had begun — Judge Dean Patton officially sentenced DiNiro to two full days in the local jailhouse. He was, however, said to be reluctant to take this action, feeling that sending a debtor to prison for their “crime” is wrongful.

"This lady didn't need to be there," he told the Associated Press. "We don't do debtors prisons anymore. That went out 100 years ago."

Yet when a woman dies in prison — particularly a mother of seven children — it can stir up quite a controversy over such a law. The Christian Post reveals that as soon as word reached the ears of the public, backlash erupted at the inhumanity of the situation. Police and jail officials are still looking into how the mom may have died behind bars, however. No foul play was evidenced, but examiners say it is still unknown as to what actually caused the woman’s death.

Pennsylvania remains one of the states in the U.S. that still will jail people who owe rising debts and repeatedly refuse to pay them. As provide in Berks County reports, over 1,500 people have been charged with not paying a variety of fees (court payments, truancy fees, and other school charges), resulting in prison time. However, the threat of time behind bars is apparently working, as one law enforcement official said that the overall attempt to reduce debt due to truancy has shown effective progress. Since reminders have gone out in the community, “truancy has dropped about 30 percent.”

Nonetheless, the judge has shown recent remorse over the sad death of 55-year-old DiNiro. The mom of seven apparently had apparently racked up over a decade of debt due to the truancy, leading to her eventual imprisonment. Do you have any reaction to the "woman dies in prison" headline? Do you believe it was just to send her to jail for 48 hours as punishment for the failure to pay repeated school fines?