BOB HART OUT OF THE BOX
BABIES Behind Bars. What can the title of this epic possibly mean? What could a defenceless, gurgling baby do that would get it thrown in the slammer?
Throw a rattle at its nanny? Strangle the cat? Barf on the vicar? What?
Is there a Mr Big Baby in these prisons who runs his evil baby empire from behind bars, ordering hits on social workers and the hijacking of milk tankers? Just wondering . . .
But no. That’s not what it’s about at all. This movie-length doco revolves around inmates in a high-security women’s prison — in Indiana, US — who give birth in prison and keep their babies with them.
It is not, however, a course of action available to all expectant cons. It’s merely an attempt to address soaring pregnancy rates among the nation’s tens of thousands of female prisoners. A bold and controversial attempt, at that.
Words of wisdom come from many of the players in this all-seeing doco. A grizzled old female screw notes that ‘‘ if you’re pregnant and you’re in prison, you’ve got to feel you’ve failed pretty bad’’. Well, yes. ‘‘ Having a baby in prison is no picnic,’’ reveals Dr Richard Tanner, the medical director of
Prison: An inmate and her baby the program. No. Really? How about for the baby?
Prisoner Donna is 20 and eight weeks pregnant when she checks in. This will be her second baby, and she is pretty sure that her boyfriend, an affable drug dealer, will be really kind to it when he, too, is released from prison.
Donna knows lots of great bedtime stories. She tells of one lively young ex-con mum who cut up her baby, cooked it, and fed it to her husband. Or so she says.
Prisoner Bobbi is enduring her eighth pregnancy. Three of her babies have been adopted. But this time, it will be different.
‘‘ I was never a bad mum,’’ she explains. ‘‘ I just made bad choices.’’ Babies Behind Bars ABC2, 9.30pm