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Last night, I caught the premiere of Babies Behind Bars, a two-part special on TLC. You heard me right: babies behind bars. But this isn't a show about genius babies dealing black market diaper cream or getting caught because they couldn’t reach the pedals of the getaway car. Babies Behind Bars takes place in the maximum security Indiana Women’s Prison.
Of the 600 prisoners, about 60 are pregnant. Those inmates are vying for just 10 spots in the "baby dorm," which allows select inmates a chance to serve their sentence with their babies. It's part of a radical new project called the Wee Ones Program, and the goal is to give moms an opportunity to bond with their babies and, more importantly, avoid repeat offenses. Getting into the program isn't easy; stringent criteria must be met and inmates who aren't selected must surrender their babies within 24 hours of birth. (Yes, it's as horrible as it sounds.)
Watching a toddler get a pat-down was beyond strange, and seeing baby dorm hopeful Bobbie give birth to her eighth child and wonder whether her crack addiction had affected her baby was heart wrenching.
No doubt, these babies are starting out with the odds stacked against them. But if this program helps these women be better mothers and lowers the rate of repeat incarcerations -- which is 30 percent -- those wee ones will have caught their first lucky break.
Catch part two of the series on Thursday, March 3, at 10 EST on TLC.