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Mothers of Bedford

Women Make Movies released this film by Jenifer McShane about the experience of motherhood during incarceration. Description below:

Women are the fastest-growing U.S. prison population today. Eighty percent are mothers of school-age children.  Jenifer McShane’s absorbing documentary gives human dimensions to these rarely reported statistics, taking us inside Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison north of New York City. Shot over four years, MOTHERS OF BEDFORD follows five women – of diverse backgrounds and incarcerated for different reasons- in dual struggles to be engaged in their children’s lives and become their better selves. It shows how long-term sentences affect mother-child relationships and how Bedford’s innovative Children’s Center helps women maintain and improve bonds with children and adult relatives awaiting their return. Whether it be parenting’s normal frustrations to celebrating a special day, from both inside and out of the prison walls, this moving film provides unprecedented access to a little known, rarely shown, community of women.

Art and Self-Esteem




A 3-page report written by April Murphy, Jeff Beaty, and James Minnick, provides evidence for the fundamental value of bringing art to detention centers. Read it here: Improving Self-Esteem Through Art for Incarcerated Youth

A few selections from the text:

“Adolescents in juvenile correctional facilities are often forgotten and looked upon with contempt by individuals in society, which has led to them being commonly classified as ‘America’s Forgotten Youth‘ by those working with these youths. One of the foundational issues present among incarcerated youths is low self-esteem. When put behind bars as a juvenile and forgotten by those who see them only as delinquents, it is no surprise that his or her self-esteem is damaged. Therefore, it is imperative to implement interventions aimed at improving the self-esteem of these youths if they are to have the confidence to be successful when acclimating back into society….

Art is one medium that has been effective in reaching these individuals; allowing them to see who they are and who they can be.

When 20 incarcerated youths were asked about protective factors, or what they thought would keep them out of the adult system, recurring themes included: self-love, self-esteem, positive self-talk and believing in oneself.”


The report features an organization called The Emanuel Project, led by the artist Emanuel Martinez, which has brought a number of mural projects to youth detention facilities. The photo above shows Martinez and the youth he worked with at Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility (photo by Ken Ritchie).

Here are a few more of his detention facility murals:



Cyndi Taylor Krier Juvenile Correctional Treatment Center, San Antonio, TX – “Future Doorways” 35′ x 8′


Advent Home Learning Center, Calhoun, TN – “Spiritual Awakening” 30′ x 11′




Sumter Youth Development Campus, Americus, GA – “Visualize Your Future” 90′ x 30′