Grandmother who couldn't afford $300 bail died after spending last 150 days of her life in jail
A black senior citizen inmate who couldn't afford to post $300 bail after spending her last 150 days in jail has passed away.
According to court records 61-year-old inmate, Janice Dotson-Stephens, was held in custody of the Bexar County Sherrif's Office since July on a criminal charge of trespassing on private property. Clerk records show that this misdemeanor was her first arrest in Bexar County.
Officials of the Sherrif's office announced that Dotson-Stephens has passed away of natural causes, and had previously been held at the infirmary at the annex detention center for quite a while.
Janice Dotson-Stephens, 61, died at the Bexar County jail on Friday. She'd been in lockup since her arrest for crim trespass in July because she didn't pay $300 bail. According to district clerk records, she was awaiting a psych eval https://t.co/VJ0k4ZiCbA— Michael Barajas (@michaelsbarajas) December 16, 2018
As for why she stayed in jail for so long, officials have not released a statement, especially since she could have easily been bailed out at $300. Moreover, court records show that she refused to be interviewed the day after her arrest, and on four consecutive days in late July.
The Supreme Court really ought to interpret "excessive bail" as prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to be any bail beyond the means of the defendant.— Matthew Chapman (@fawfulfan) December 18, 2018
On August 4, she refused to be interviewed yet again, and a court-appointed attorney was instead assigned to represent her. On August 27, she was requested to go through a psychological evaluation just 10 days after she refused to make a court appearance.
Good Lord. First of all, humane treatment aside, I’m sure it cost more to keep her than the bond—so dumb. Whatever small thing she did (if she did anything) cannot be deserving of captivity until death. Go for someone who is causing world devastation and chaos—Individual 1. #Sick— VAN ☀️ (@ValNixon) December 18, 2018
Although the results of that psychological evaluation never came to light, it seems that Janice was indeed going through something in the latter part of her life. After she was caught trespassing for an unknown reason, this has ultimately led to her demise and has made her experience the most unusual things prior to her death.
Yet another example of the injustice of cash bail. Cash bail is supposed to be an incentive to return to court. It is not. It is simply a punishment for being poor. And like here, the punishment can be death. Do people really think someone deserves to die for trespassing? https://t.co/WhLRkFnGZq— Eliza Orlins (@elizaorlins) December 17, 2018
In the end, it was never clear whether or not she had her family's support throughout her court case, or what her intention was for trespassing, especially since she never allowed herself to be interrogated by police. Instead, she chose to suffer in silence, which became too much to bear towards the end.
A woman was held in jail for six months because she couldn’t afford to pay her $300 bond. She just died in custody. This is tragic and exactly why we need to reform our money bail system. https://t.co/FAQEoUQYVp— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) December 18, 2018
Rest In Peace, Janice.