Directed by Randi Jacobs • Documentary • 2008 • 58 minutes
Pregnancy inside this Oregon prison for women is anything but a joyous celebration of new life. Women who deliver their babies in prison have few options; if they can't find a family member to care for the infant, they will need to place it in foster care, or choose adoption. In any case, the newborn will be separated from its mother at birth, with a very real possibility that the two will never be reunited.
Christina, Trisha and Kristin are pregnant, and are facing years behind bars. Their newborns will face an uncertain future. The three women share the personal details of their pregnancies, incarceration and deliveries as they struggle with the agonizing search for safe and healthy homes for their babies and as one plan after another falls apart. A fourth inmate, Tangerine, adds the perspective of someone who has already been through it.
By contrast, a few states have prison nurseries where inmates can keep their newborns with them. The documentary visits Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in New York, where Dr. Mary Byrne of Columbia University has been studying the development of babies during their first year of life inside a prison environment. As the number of women in prison continues its dramatic rise, her findings may have a major impact on planning to better meet the needs of incarcerated women and their babies.