Exclusive: Babies Behind Bars is Katie Piper’s moving new documentary

Katie Piper: Babies Behind Bars explores the different ways women and their children are treated in the prison system. 

It is the sort of taboo topic that is rarely spoken about. Indeed, there is a very serious gap in government data collection about the realities faced by pregnant women in the US prison system. Now, though, things are about to change – thanks to none other than Katie Piper.

In a Stylist exclusive, the writer, activist and TV presenter has revealed that she’s working on a fascinating new documentary series, which will see her follow both the delivery and often complicated processing of babies and children in some of the most talked about prisons in the US.

In doing so, she hopes to shine a light on the sometimes grim realities faced by thousands of incarcerated pregnant women.

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“I’ve worked as a volunteer in female prisons for many years now, and I’ve learnt so much from the women I’ve met, so I already have an intense and vested interest in this subject matter,” Piper tells Stylist.

“The situations faced by women in prisons are nuanced and interesting at the same time, and I am intrigued to learn about the US female prison system – and the similarities and differences to ours.

“More importantly, though, I am interested in the residents and their lived experiences.”

Intrigued? Here’s what you need to know about her compelling new series.

What can we expect from Katie Piper: Babies Behind Bars?

Over five compelling episodes, Piper will join female prisoners who are not only negotiating a prison term but who are also parents and coming to terms with what that means for their children’s future. 

Katie Piper hopes to shine a light on the under-reported conditions of the US prison system.

Each prison has a different approach to women managing pregnancy and parenthood, and so Katie Piper: Babies Behind Bars explores the myriad ways women and their children are treated – as well as how they cope with the heart-breaking prospect of having to give up their babies while they serve their time.

What are people saying about Katie Piper: Babies Behind Bars?

Katie Piper: Babies Behind Bars has been commissioned by Helen Nightingale, senior commissioning editor for UKTV, and ordered for W by Adam Collings, channel director, and Hilary Rosen, director of commissioning.

“With subject matter seldom seen it feels like a real moment for the channel. Katie Piper: Babies Behind Bars is a captivating format and we’re excited to give W viewers the chance to see mother and baby care through a completely new lens,” says Collings.

“Katie is the perfect fit for the channel and we’re delighted to welcome her to W.”

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Nightingale, meanwhile, says: “I am delighted to be commissioning this exciting new series Katie Piper: Babies Behind Bars for W and to welcome Katie into our roster of brilliant talent on the channel.

“I can’t think of anyone better than Katie, with her unique take on the subject matter, to take us into the world of the women and children living within the US justice system. It’s going to be a fascinating and emotional watch.”

Executive producer Colleen Flynn adds: “We are thrilled to be working with W and Katie on such an important series. The complexities of women within the criminal justice system is a subject that desperately needs to be explored further and with Katie at the helm we hope to ask a pivotal question about whether anyone should ever have to give birth behind bars.”

What has Katie Piper said about her new documentary series?

“I am thrilled to be working with the W Channel in 2023. I have always had a strong interest in real-life documentary formats and Babies Behind Bars is already proving to be a fascinating project,” says Piper.

“As a long-standing volunteer in UK women’s prisons, I’m intrigued by the varying treatment within the US system. I have no idea what to expect when I’m across the Atlantic, but that’s the magic of a documentary. I can’t wait to see how this project unfolds.”

Katie Piper has worked as a volunteer in female prisons for years.

Speaking separately with Stylist, Piper adds: “To have this access is unique, and I want to ensure we produce a cutting-edge, fresh documentary on this unique group of people.”

When can we watch Katie Piper: Babies Behind Bars?

Katie Piper: Babies Behind Bars will begin filming next month and is scheduled to air on UKTV’s free-to-air channel W next year. 

It will also be available on UKTV Play.

Main image: Zak Walton

All other images: Getty

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