Friends, neighbors outraged over death of mother serving truancy sentence

Friends, neighbors outraged over death of mother serving truancy sentence

READING, Pa. - Neighbors are struggling to come to grips with news that their friend, a mother of seven in Reading, died Saturday in the Berks County Jail.

Eileen Dinino, 55, was found dead in her jail cell amidst serving a 48-hour sentence for her children's multiple school absences.

"We've got so many criminals running around that are trying to hurt people every day and they take a nice person like that and put her in jail. That's the saddest thing I ever heard," said neighbor and friend John Lund.

"I was shocked," added his wife, Rose Lund.

The Lunds said Dinino walked by their home on Green Street nearly every day. The couple said she would often stop by and talk to them, occasionally accompanied by her children.

They said it was one of Dinino's sons who informed them of the death.

"He looked devastated, he was so sad," she said. "They seemed like they really were a very loving family."

According to officials, Dinino owed about $2,000 in fines, resulting from some of 55 truancy violations.

"She didn't have any money, nothing. She was trying to… I think she was trying to hold together her family, do everything that she possibly can," said District Judge Wally Scott, who oversaw some of Dinino's cases but cleared them.

On Friday, she was sent to prison reluctantly by District Judge Dean Patton, who spoke with 69 News off-camera. He described Dinino as a "lost soul."

In response to her death, Patton said he hopes to spark change regarding the laws that criminalize truancy. He said he is meeting with state lawmakers to discuss potential modifications on Friday.

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