$30 could have potentially saved Janice Dotson-Stephens’ life. The 61-year-old grandmother of 10, from Texas, died in jail after being held on $300 bail since July 17. She was reportedly charged with criminal trespassing. However, her family didn’t know she was being held until her unfortunate passing.
Dotson-Stephens had a history of mental illness. According to Refinery 29, Dotson-Stephens struggled with manic depression and paranoid tendencies for more than 40 years.
“Despite her illness she was a great mother,” Michelle Dotson told Refinery29. “She knew she didn’t always have control and so when she did, she wanted us to be our best.”
This instance wasn’t Dotson-Stephens’ first run-in with law enforcement. In the past, when she was arrested the family would be informed and she would be transferred to hospital and placed under psychiatric evaluation.
“She had people who loved her and family who would have easily paid the $30 USD to get her out of jail if that’s what we had to do to take the next step,” Dotson-Stephens’ sister-in-law Leticia Dotson said in an interview with KSAT ABC.
Her death is being investigated by the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office. Black women continue to die in police custody. Earlier this year, Sandra Bland’s family released a documentary that explored the circumstances around Bland’s mysterious death. We hope all families get the justice they deserve.