Journalism of Courage

61-year-old Black grandmother died in jail, after she couldn’t afford to pay a $30 bond

A 61-year-old Black grandmother was arrested on a misdemeanor trespassing charge and held in jail for five months in a town in Texas, USA.

Now Janice Dotson-Stephens has died in the custody of the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) last Friday Per Second News confirmed.

Dotson-Stephens had been held in jail since July on a $300 bond for an arrest July 17 on a misdemeanor charge of trespassing on private property her first brush with the law according to Bexar County Court records. Officials said appeared to have died from natural causes.

Since Dotson-Stephens bail was $300 most bail bond companies require a 10 percent payment to bail the inmate out of jail in the united States. She could have been set free for as little as $30, (N10,800) Naira.

Family members of Dotson-Stephens said they were not aware she was in jail. They believed she was being treated at a state hospital.

Her daughter-in-law, Leticia Dotson,  said that she and her husband were hurt to find out that Dotson-Stephens died in jail.

“We just felt that she shouldn’t have died as a criminal in the jailhouse,” she said. “She wasn’t a criminal.

Dotson said her mother-in-law had a history of mental illness. She went on to say, none of her mother-in-law’s family members had been contacted, something she thinks could have saved her life.

“If it changed and we had to bail her out before the process of getting her to the state hospital, we would have done that,” Dotson said. “She had people who loved her and family who would have easily paid the $30 to get her out of jail if that’s what we had to do to take the next step.”

Bexar County officials said on Monday they couldn’t confirm if Dotson-Stephens was diagnosed with a mental health condition.

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