In the United States, there are over 6.8 million people in prison, jail, on probation or parole. That is 1 in every 35 adults. Perhaps even more alarming is that women are the fastest growing segment of the incarcerated population, increasing at nearly double the rate of men since 1985.
The If Project is a feature length documentary that explores the reasons behind these staggering numbers. The film follows a group of inmates incarcerated in a maximum-security women’s prison who are part of a writing workshop co-created by a Seattle police detective and a repeat offender serving a nine-year sentence.
The writing workshop provides access to an emotional depth and intimacy we are not often afforded with those behind bars. We journey with them as they take a brutal and honest look into their past and work to look honestly, often for the first time, at what exactly led them to prison. These stories serve as a launching off point to follow three of the women in the program as they are released, reunited with their families and faced with life on the outside. Most astoundingly, they do all of this with a police officer by their side every step of the way. We watch as a lasting bond is formed and this unlikely partnership between cop and convict unfolds.
What the The If Project allows us is an intimate journey into a world of the locked away and forgotten. It opens our eyes to the real struggles of those who are trying to reenter society – and the many obstacles they face.