Texas

61-year-old woman dies in Texas jail because she couldn’t afford $300 bond, records say

Janice Dodson-Stephens, 61, died in a Bexar County Detention Center annex Friday after being held for months on a criminal trespass charge. Bond was set at just $300.
Janice Dodson-Stephens, 61, died in a Bexar County Detention Center annex Friday after being held for months on a criminal trespass charge. Bond was set at just $300.

Janice Dodson-Stephens spent the last six months of her life waiting for a day that never came.

The 61-year-old officially died of cardiovascular disease on Friday in the Bexar County Detention Center annex in San Antonio, Texas, according to the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office.

She was arrested on July 19, according to KENS, on a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespass onto private property. She sat in jail since then, waiting on either the case to resolve itself, or for a relative to pay the $300 bond that was listed for her release by Bexar County Magistrate.

KSAT reported that the $300 bond figure meant that it only would have cost family or a friend $30 to bail Dodson-Stephens out of jail, which is based on the customary 10 percent bail standard employed by most bail bond companies. But if that bail amount (10 percent of the bond dictated by law enforcement officials) is less than $100, many bail bond companies simply round the bail payment up to $100.



Her family didn’t know she was in jail these last six months, according to subsequent reporting from KSAT.

“We just felt that she shouldn’t have died as a criminal in the jailhouse.She wasn’t a criminal. She had mental health illness,” Leticia Dotson, her daughter-in-law, said, according to the station.

Dotson-Stephens initially refused to speak with investigators after her arrest, according to court records.

Her death in the custody of Bexar County is being investigated by the police department in nearby Converse, Texas, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Matt is an award-winning real time reporter and a University of Texas at Austin graduate who’s been based at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 2011. His regional focus is Texas, and that makes sense. He’s only lived there his whole life.
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