A 61-year-old woman died in a Texas jail after she couldn't afford a $300 bond

Google MapsBexar County Sheriff’s Office in San Antonio, Texas
  • Janice Dotson-Stephens, 61, died on Friday after spending five months in the custody of the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office in San Antonio, Texas.
  • Officials said she died from natural causes at the infirmary at the department’s annex detention center.
  • She was being held on a $US300 bond for a criminal charge of trespassing on private property.
  • She likely could have been released for a $US30 payment from a family member or friend, based on the customary 10% bail standard employed by most bail bond companies.

A 61-year-old woman died in a Texas jail after spending five months at the facility because she could’t afford a $US300 bond.

Janice Dotson-Stephens died in the custody of the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office in San Antonio on Friday, five months after she was arrested on July 17 on a criminal charge of trespassing on private property, according to KSAT.

Officials from the BCSO said Dotson-Stephens appeared to have died from natural causes at the infirmary at the department’s annex detention center.

Dotson-Stephens was being held on a $US300 bond, meaning she likely could have been released on a $US30 payment made by a family member or friend, based on the customary 10% bail standard employed by most bail bond companies, the Star Telegram reported.

But Dotson-Stephens’ family apparently didn’t know the woman was in jail and instead thought she was being treated at a state hospital.

Leticia Dotson, Dotson-Stephens’ daughter-in-law, said she had a history of mental illness and health problems and when she had been arrested previously in other counties, she was evaluated and transferred to a state hospital.

“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,” Dotson told KSAT.

She said if the family had known Dotson-Stephens was still at the jail, they would have gotten her out of jail and into a hospital.

“She had people who loved her and family who would have easily paid the $US30 to get her out of jail if that’s what we had to do to take the next step,” Dotson said.


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Officials have not revealed why Dotson-Stephens stayed in the jail for so long, but said hospital transfers require a court order.

Court records seen by KSAT revealed that she had refused to be interviewed the day of her arrest – her first in Bexar County – and on four subsequent days in July.

On August 4, she again refused to be interviewed and on August 8 was assigned a court-appointed attorney.

She again refused to make a court appearance on August 17 and was ordered to go through a psychological evaluation on August 27.

A Bexar County public information officer told KSAT that Dotson-Stephens did not have a next of kin listed.

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