Eileen DiNino: Sentenced to Death for Being Poor
Eileen DiNino, a 55 year old mother of 7 was found dead in a jail cell in Berks County, PA. Ms. DiNino was serving a 2 day sentence for failure to pay $2,000 in fines for truancy.
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.”
Ms. DiNino is just one of thousands of people in poverty who are issued death sentences everyday by the American Unjustice System. Her story is well known to us mothers in poverty who struggle to keep it all together. Instead of stepping in and trying to help this woman who was obviously overwhelmed and doing the best she could, she was taken to court and fined. On top of the fines they added court costs, fees and interest and the debt just kept piling up with no end in site. The only option Ms. DiNino could see was doing 2 days in jail to wipe out this debt she could never pay.
In order to pay off $2,000 in fines a person making minimum wage would have to work 300 hours.
Ms. DiNino’s story is our story and that could very easily be any one of us found dead in a jail cell for being poor.