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Woman in jail for kids' skipping school dies in cell

Eileen Dinino found in cell.

Woman sent to Berks County Jail on truancy charges dies

BERN TWP., Pa. - A woman died at the Berks County Jail in Bern Township on Saturday.

Some legislators are questioning why how she died and why she was in jail in the first place.

"I have questions as well as what happened to the woman in prison. How did it happen that she passed away? Did she need medical attention and not receive it," said PA Senator Judy Schwank, (D) Berks County.

Eileen Dinino, 55, was a mother of seven. She was serving a 48-hour sentence for her children's multiple truancy violations. But some legislators cannot come to grips with her sentence.

"I cannot understand how someone ends up going to jail. They did not murder someone, they did not steal, they did not commit a felony. How does jail time equate to resolving this particular problem?" said Sen. Schwank.

Dinino had a total of 55 violations against her for her children missing numerous days of school in both Reading and Muhlenberg Township.

Under state law, you can be sentenced to five days in jail for every violation.

"That unfortunately is part of the law in Pennsylvania and I think it is insanity. There has got to be a better way to deal with truancy than putting somebody in prison," said Christian Leinbach, (R) Berks County commissioner.

Schwank suggested maybe community service or a payment plan for the fines would have been more beneficial.

But Leinbach is calling for an outright change to the existing law.

"I think there are better ways to deal with nonviolent crimes. I am not even sure quite frankly that things like truancy and parking should be criminal offenses and frankly support legislation that would decriminalize those offenses," said Leinbach.

Dinino died 24-hours into her sentence. An autopsy was performed, but the coroner is awaiting toxicology results before deciding the cause of death.

Officials say nothing indicates the death was suspicious.

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