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Sunday, June 2, 2019

Incarcerated Mother of Truant Kids Dies in Jail

     A mother of seven children who was sentenced to 48 hours in jail for her children's excessive truancy violations died during her sentence….Eileen Dinino, 55, died on Saturday, June 10, 2014 in a cell at the Berks County Jail in Reading, Pennsylvania….She died one day into her two-day sentence.

     Initial autopsy reports indicate that the cause of death was natural. However, the coroner is still waiting for toxicology tests to come back.

     The number of truancy violations charged to Dinino because her kids played hooky was the same as her age: 55. They had been accumulating since 1999. Under Pennsylvania law, parents can go to jail for five days for every single time their kids have an unexcused school absence. Dinino had the option to pay $2,000 in fines but she couldn't afford it….

     The sentencing judge, Dean R. Patton, said he sentenced the mother to jail reluctantly. He later criticized the sentencing guidelines he said he was required to follow….Local politicians have also expressed outrage about Dinino's death.…Since 2000, according to the Associated Press, more than 1,600 people have gone to jail in Berks County because of truancy violations and an inability to pay the resulting fines. [In March 2016, the heirs of Eileen Dinino settled a federal lawsuit against Berks County for an undisclosed amount.]

Eric Owens, "Mom of Seven Died in Prison After Judge Jailed Her For Her Kids' Excessive Truancy," The Daily Caller, June 14, 2014

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