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Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. With the aid of inmate Renata Abramson (pictured in sceengrab below), Detective Kim Bogucki and Photographer/Film Director Kathlyn Horan co-founded The IF Project and asked ladies at the Washington Corrections Center for Women a single simple question:

“If there was something someone could have said or done that would have changed the path that led you here, what would it have been?”

Simply, the filmed testimonies (also here) and over 300 essays give the public an open line on the difficult lives these ladies have lived.

The lazy definition of ‘choice’ that everybody falls back on to justify punishments meted out upon the disadvantaged in our society – “they chose to do their crime, they do the time” – is exposed by these ladies’ stories. Many of them had no choice, at least not choice that would be obvious to an unloved teenager without any support, example or love.

I also know that The IF Project has expanded into men’s prisons in Washington State. Wonderful news.

IF you wouldn’t have noticed, the lady in the top image is cutting out the Washington Department of Corrections uniform badge.

IF you do anything today, spare 13 minutes for The IF Project trailer.

The IF Project Trailer, Screengrab

The IF Project Trailer, Screengrab

Follow The IF Project activities on Twitter and Facebook

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Frederick Douglas

Mandi and Gabriel

Mandi and Gabriel (3 days old), 2008 © Cheryl Hanna-Truscott

Cheryl Hanna-Truscott is a registered nurse and midwife who attests to the importance of healthy, timely infant-mother attachment. Equally she recognises that the women in her portraits are the beneficiaries of an unfortunately rare approach to motherhood in US sites of incarceration.

Protective Custody: Within a Prison Nursery is a portrait series about pregnant inmates who qualify for The Residential Parenting Program, at Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW). The program began in 1999 allowing selected pregnant inmates with sentences less than thirty months to maintain custody of their babies after giving birth.


I was reminded of Hanna-Truscott’s work today with its inclusion in 100Eyes newest issue Dependence.

prison nursery 3


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