This week, “America ReFramed” aired its feature-length documentary on the lives of incarcerated moms: “Mothers of Bedford.”
“America ReFramed” is a television series bringing its viewers a “snapshot of the transforming American life.” Within the last few decades the number of incarcerated women in America has more than doubled, and today, 80 percent of female inmates are biological mothers to school-aged children. The separation of mother and child is becoming a reality for more and more families each day.
The filmmaker of “Mothers of Bedford,” Jenifer McShane, spent four years following five incarcerated mothers at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a maximum-security penitentiary in New York. Through interviews with the mothers, their children and other family members, the children’s caregivers, and prison employees and volunteers, viewers gain an understanding of what parenting from a distance can be like. From phoning into a parent-teacher conference to celebrating Mother’s Day behind bars, this documentary covers it all: the day-to-day and the out-of-the-ordinary.
Although some of these mothers are serving 20 years for crimes such as murder in the second degree, they aren’t letting their pasts stop them from working to become good role models for their kids. Through parenting classes and in-prison education, these incarcerated moms are moving forward, hopeful for the day they can be reunited with their children on the outside.
In the meantime, the mothers at Bedford have been blessed with a rare opportunity to spend quality time with their kids at a Children’s Center within the prison walls. While visits in the Children’s Center must sometimes be used to discuss a fight a child got into at school or a bad grade, other times visits celebrate happy occasions like a child’s birthday.
“Mothers of Bedford” depicts the stresses that prison automatically places on a family, but also paints a beautiful picture of the power of a mother’s unconditional love. This documentary exposes guilt and pain, but also forgiveness and reconciliation.
“‘Mothers of Bedford’ provides a window to a world we rarely see,” says McShane. “I hope my film will illuminate and raise the level of discussion on the topic of women in prison today.”
To watch the documentary or to view its next airtime, please visit worldchannel.org.