Court or support? Case of woman who gave birth on Omaha sidewalk raises questions about sentencing, care

Lena Weib

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – The mom who gave birth on an Omaha sidewalk then walked away from the baby is still in jail facing child abuse charges, but the courts are working to determine how other issues might factor in and what to do about them.

Trinity Shakespeare, 27, who gave birth to a baby boy near 24th and P streets in below-freezing weather on Sunday, has had issues in the past with drug and alcohol addiction and homelessness.

The baby is safe now, and Shakespeare is in jail.

There are people who say there are other issues at play here — and that Shakespeare should not be in jail.

“Leaving a baby on the sidewalk in 15-degree weather is child abuse,” Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine told 6 News.

Shakespeare has other children, and she’s had issues with the legal system before. Kleine said he hopes that if Shakespeare needs help, she can get a start by being in the system.

Trinity Shakespeare(Omaha Police Department)

“We file the charge, we’ll see if there’s mental health issues, if there’s drug issues — and those can be addressed by the court,” he said. “Those may be mitigating factors that the court would look at with regard on what to do with this person.”

But the experts tell us people with addiction or mental health issues have to want to get better.

Gina Tomes is the program director at Bethlehem House, where they help women who are pregnant and in crisis. She said it’s a big step forward admitting you need help.

“Just as an example: For every 10 women we interview, two of them are ready for this type of programming, this type of commitment, and this type of recovery,” she said.

The baby is safe, but she is in jail. But there are people who say there are other issues at play here — and that she should not be in jail.

Officials say there is a need for more rehab centers and mental health facilities. Tomes said that when a woman in crisis reaches out for help, organizations have to be ready to act quickly.

“We have a home program where women come to live,” she said. “And so we can spring into action and surround that woman with the right type of services so that sometimes, for the very first time in her life, she feels like she stands a chance and she wants that life — and she’s not going to let anything get in the way to accomplish a healthy sober life.”

Kleine said Shakespeare has a case in juvenile court to deal with her new baby and one in criminal court. He said the two cases will join together to resolve what the problems are and hopefully determine a solution.

Shakespeare made her first appearance in court Thursday. Her bond was set for $50,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 17.

Copyright 2022 WOWT. All rights reserved.

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