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The Julia Tutwiler Prison is the only correctional facility for women in Alabama, and it has a reputation for overcrowding, understaffing and egregious inmate mistreatment. In 2014, a US Department of Justice investigation found conditions in the prison to be unconstitutional due to rampant staff-on-prisoner sexual abuse. As part of an effort at reform, in 2016 Tutwiler helped to initiate the Alabama Prison Birth Project – an endeavour to prepare its pregnant prisoners (some 45 to 50 women each year) for motherhood, and ensure that their babies are healthy and looked after. But can a system that separates newborns from their mothers just 24 hours after birth ever be humane? Constructed with care and nuance by the Academy Award-nominated US filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon, this documentary traces both the promise and the moral complexities of a programme that seeks to break the intergenerational prison chain from inside.
Director: Elaine McMillion Sheldon
Producer: Alysia Santo
Websites: Frontline, The Marshall Project
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Dance and theatre
How a Noh mask-maker summons a lifelike face from a single block of wood
On a whirlwind morning, a couple learns if they’re facing an unplanned pregnancy
The ancient world
What wine vessels reveal about politics and luxury in ancient Athens and Persia
David Goldblatt captured the contradictions of apartheid in stark black and white
Philosophy of mind
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Love and friendship
When drawing your muse hundreds of times becomes an exercise in love
Thinkers and theories
Is simulation theory a way to shirk responsibility for the world we’ve created?
In Rwanda, Sébastien finds traces of personal history in the wake of national tragedy