Mom jailed over truancy died from heart failure

READING (AP) – A mother of seven who was jailed over her children’s truancy and then found dead in her cell died of natural causes, a coroner ruled.

The Berks County coroner’s office released its findings on 55-year-old Eileen DiNino on Thursday. An autopsy revealed that DiNino’s high blood pressure contributed to heart failure and that fluid in her lungs also was a factor.

DiNino, of Reading, was found dead in her jail cell on June 7, halfway through a two-day sentence. She had been jailed for failing to pay about $2,000 in truancy fines and court costs accrued since 1999 in cases involving several of her children.

The judge who sentenced DiNino said days after her death he had reluctantly sent her to jail.

District Judge Dean R. Patton, who described DiNino as “a lost soul,” complained about a broken system that punishes impoverished parents and questioned laws criminalizing such lapses as truancy or failing to pay trash bills.