A reportedly drunk pregnant woman from Clovis, California, has been arrested in the death of 47-year-old Federico Nunez Silva.
The woman, 23-year-old Candice Ooley, was taken to a medical facility for observation and later booked, according to the California Highway Patrol.
What makes this situation especially tragic — and what could find Ooley facing murder charges — is that this was not her first DUI.
Ooley struck the SUV Nunez was traveling in at a “high rate of speed” and in a state of intoxication, according to The Fresno Bee.
The drunk pregnant woman did not seem to be suffering from any severe injuries, and the state of her unborn child has not been released to the public, though it is not assumed the child is in any danger.
ABC30 reports that the driver of the Hummer Ooley rear-ended “was airlifted to the hospital and his two female passengers were taken by ambulance — after being pinned inside the vehicle for about an hour.”
Injuries of the three surviving victims range from “moderate to major,” the site said.
The incident is an unusual one for a couple of reasons. For starters, is causing a death as the drunk pregnant woman did worth a charge greater than vehicular manslaughter, especially when it was not her first such offense?
At what point does recklessness warrant a more severe penalty?
In the case of Ooley, she is facing possible vehicular manslaughter charges as well as other DUI-related offenses. Her bond is set at $151,900, a relatively low bail for someone who could easily gain access to alcohol and an automobile if someone is able to post it for her.
Secondly, what should become of the unborn child?
— ABC30 Fresno (@ABC30) May 21, 2016
Women and Prison ran a heartfelt piece from one then-25-year-old woman named Kebby Warner, who shared her story about being pregnant and incarcerated. Kebby’s offense was not as severe as what the drunk pregnant woman in California could be facing, but it was severe enough to affect her pregnancy and outlook.
Warner said that she was incarcerated for littering and passing a $350 stolen check.
While the entire essay is worth a read for those of you wanting to know about pregnancy in prison from top to bottom, there were two specific takeaways that speak to what women like Ooley might face.
1. The rules for incarcerated parents.
In Michigan, where Warner was incarcerated, parents who are in jail for more than two years can easily lose their parental rights. This is a common time period across most states.
Their children are often shipped to the foster care system with suitable and willing blood relatives having the first choice to step up as caregivers.
2. The birth process for incarcerated mothers.
Perhaps the most gut-wrenching portion of Warner’s essay is when she describes her time giving birth and those first moments with her child.
During her 72-hour labor, Warner had no one there to offer emotional support. Her family was not told of the birth until after she left the hospital.
“Thirty minutes after giving birth,” writes Warner, “I was once again handcuffed and chained, and wheeled to another floor…. My daughter was allowed to stay in the room with me, instead of the nursery. I was able to care for her during the short time I had with her. That night I fell asleep with her in my arms, fully awaken when the nurse tried to take her from me. During that time, I forgot that I was a prisoner. I was a mother. Michigan Department of Corrections Policy states that a woman can only spend 24 hours with her child before she is brought back to prison. I had to figure out a way to spend more time with her and refused to eat.”
What do you think should happen in the case of the drunk pregnant woman in California, readers? Should Candice Ooley be allowed to keep contact with her baby, or should the child be immediately placed up for adoption? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image via California Highway Patrol]