New documentary ‘Tutwiler’ shines light on what happens when inmates give birth

Alabama Prison Birth Project documentary looks at mother-child bond

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The bond between a mother and child is something that cannot be replaced. But what happens when the mother is in jail when she gives birth? That’s what the new documentary “Tutwiler” looks at.

The document paints the picture that women imprisoned at Tutwiler in Central Alabama are regular women.

“They’re our neighbors, sisters, cousins, aunties. And, a lot of the time, they haven’t done violent acts. They just have addiction issues. Some of them have been in abusive relationships,” said Chauntel Norris, co-director of The Alabama Prison Birth Project.

Tutwiler is the state’s only women’s prison. If a woman does have a child while incarcerated, the child often lives with family members. But they sometimes have to go into foster care or to a group home.

Norris said the goal of the 34-minute documentary is for people to have compassion for others and their experience.

“A lot of people aren’t aware that this is how incarcerated pregnant women are treated, and to know that this is happening. And, hold your local officials accountable. Find out what’s going on at your local jail in your county. And definitely reach out to us on Facebook or at prisonbirth.org. We’re glad to answer any questions. And accept any support you can offer,” Norris said.

You can watch the documentary at tutwilerthefilm.com or frontline.com.

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