When Seattle Police Department (SPD) Detective Kim Bogucki traveled to the Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW) after becoming a Girl Scouts Beyond the Bars partner. As part of her assignment in the SPD Youth Outreach Unit, Detective Bogucki worked with girl scouts whose mothers were incarcerated at WCCW. Kim wanted to meet their mothers to discuss the program and to explain why a police officer was meeting with their daughters. Kim also wanted to tell the girls that she had met their mothers and to assure their mothers that the police would not say anything negative about them to their children. She hoped her visit would start to build trust among the inmates, their daughters, and the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars organization.
Neither Kim nor the mothers knew at the time that this first meeting would lead to a national model exemplifying a unique collaboration involving police and prisoners working in partnership to help both incarcerated women and at-risk youth take a positive path. On her initial visit to WCCW, Kim asked the following question:
“If there was something someone could have said or done to change the path that led you here what would it have been?”
The IF Project took off soon thereafter when one inmate, Renata Abramson, started collecting essays answering the IF question from meeting attendees and even non-attendees throughout the prison. When Kim returned for a follow-up meeting a few weeks later, Renata handed her 25 essays, and thus began the IF Project.