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Church State Issues

Phoenix Police - Prostitutes that accept Jesus get out of jail!!!

Jan 25, 2015

Arizona Republic

I have posted a number of articles about this stupid "Project Rose" which is where the Phoenix Police and ASU, yes that's Arizona State University mix government and religion and give hookers a get out of jail free card if they accept Jesus Christ as their savior.

Of course they don't exactly say it that way. They know it would be unconstitutional.

The Bethany Bible Church is involved in this blatantly unconstitutional project where prostitutes arrested by the Phoenix Police have the prostitution charges dropped if they accept Jesus Christ.

Bethany Bible Church
6060 North 7th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85013

(602) 246-9788

Anytime these do gooders and busy bodies want to throw a person in prison for a victimless crime they just claim that the person who committed the crime is a victim of the crime and use that lame excuse to jail the person for a crime the do gooders and busy bodies dislike.
"Meanwhile, prostitutes often don't see themselves as the trafficking victims of anybody. Social workers say one of their hardest tasks is convincing a prostitute that she is a victim."
Personally I think ALL victimless crimes such as prostitution should be legalized.


Sex trafficking: A shift in attitudes

Richard Ruelas, The Republic | azcentral.com

The women were given a choice.

For two days, Phoenix police officers had been running stings. Some solicited women in areas known for prostitution. Others made arrangements at hotels with women advertising themselves online.

Instead of taking the women to the Fourth Avenue Jail for booking, police cruisers rolled up, one after another, to Bethany Bible Church in north Phoenix, for a targeted battle in the ongoing national war against sex trafficking.

The women were led to the recreation hall. There, in a room organizers emphasized was devoid of any religious symbols, social workers pointed out tables of services.

Housing help. Medical help. A place that could help them break drug addictions. Counselors who could help them fill out forms for state welfare aid. On a stage were stacks of donated shirts, pants, jackets, socks and underwear.

Police offered the suspects — nearly all women — the choice: Submit to a six-week diversion program and no charges would be filed. Otherwise, they would be booked in jail as usual.

There in the church hall that Thursday, one woman hugged volunteers at the effort known as Project Rose. Another said she had been looking for a way out of prostitution and saw this program as a sign.

One rail-thin woman with sunken eyes stood at the doorway of the hall and debated whether to take part.

She thought out loud: Running through this Project Rose thing would take about 45 minutes to an hour of processing. Then volunteers would drive her back to wherever she chose. Jail would be a few hours of booking before seeing a judge. Then, no ride. She looked vacantly past a police officer and a social worker.

She agreed to be in the program. If she could step out for a cigarette first.

A petite college student, coiffed and made-up, sat before two social workers.

AZCENTRAL

What 'sex trafficking' really means

No, she told them, she didn't have an alcohol or drug problem. Yes, she said, she had an apartment where she felt safe. Yes, she said, she had a stable family and a supportive circle of friends. No, she said, she was not controlled by a pimp or trafficker. She had been working as a prostitute for only a few months to get money for school. She said it was a mistake.

Yes, she said, a jacket would be nice. A volunteer found her a gold sweater which all three women said was surprisingly fashionable.

The women used it to cover her bare shoulders. She rose briefly and tugged at the hem of her gray skirt, as if it suddenly seemed too short for the setting.

“As far as whether we have a ring of girls being trafficked, we're not sure that's happening.”

Lt. Tom Boelts, Yavapai County

The program was conceived by an ASU researcher who studies sex trafficking. It was an experiment to see if women would do better in diversion programs if they are offered them before jail, rather than after being booked and handcuffed.

But the effort — the last was this days-long operation in May involving more than 100 police officers — exemplified a shift in attitudes among police about what was long considered a crime of vice.

Encouraged largely by activists who publicly campaign against child sex trafficking, police officers and prosecutors have moved away from traditional busts of prostitutes to a new perspective on who, exactly, is the criminal and who is the victim.

National training seminars for police have helped push some agencies to run stings or other operations to catch johns — prostitutes' customers — and pimps — prostitutes' bosses — while treating prostitutes themselves as victims of those groups, people who need to be saved rather than jailed.

But this law-enforcement shift is complicated by questions of perspective. Stings of men seeking underage girls for prostitution have gained high profiles in recent years, even leading to a reality show on MSNBC. But attorneys and even activists question whether many of these johns ever really intended to "traffic" in children.

Meanwhile, prostitutes often don't see themselves as the trafficking victims of anybody. Social workers say one of their hardest tasks is convincing a prostitute that she is a victim.

Federal law says a sex-trafficked adult must have been doing an act under "force, fraud and coersion." Proving those elements typically involves getting the victim to talk, something officers and agents say is notoriously difficult to do.

Instead, many local police agencies focus their efforts on reducing demand. Departments will run stings that snare johns, under the premise that reducing the demand for prostitution overall will lessen the chances that an underage girl will be pressed into the sex industry.

For several days, Phoenix police swept areas known for prostitution. Instead of taking suspects to booking, police took them to a nearby church, where social workers offered housing aid, addiction treatment, help. But the women would have to make a choice.

U.S. agents, rescues

The job of finding and rescuing underage prostitutes often falls to federal authorities. The Phoenix investigative office of Homeland Security gets tips that come in from the nationwide hotline about potential victims of domestic minor sex trafficking.

The office has a dedicated team of 10 officers who work trafficking cases, although about half of their work also involves labor trafficking.

The focus of the unit is rescuing the underage people involved, said Juan Estrada, head of the Phoenix office, even at the expense of making a criminal case.

"If we know there's a child being held against their will and forced into prostitution and their life is in danger, we will do what we have to do to rescue them for that situation," he said. "And if we can't do the case, we at least did the rescue."

Federal law enforcement started getting involved in what had been the local law-enforcement issue of prostitution with the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000. The legislation aimed to stop both international labor and sex trafficking, which were defined as being any actions that someone did under "force, fraud or coercion." The act also says that anyone working in the sex industry who is younger than 18 is legally defined as a trafficking victim.

Prosecutions under the act are difficult, particularly in sex trafficking, Estrada said. Rare are cases of an obviously bound or drugged victim. Though there might be circumstantial evidence to suggest trafficking, the statute almost demands that the victim tell her or his story, Estrada said.

AZCENTRAL

4 ways to look at sex trafficking

"They are the evidence," he said. " 'I was treated this way. I was held against my will.' We can't make them say that."

Even if a person is a trafficking victim, proving it might not be so easy, Estrada said.

"Sometimes even the victim might not know they're trafficked," he said. "They've been suppressed so much that this is their normal life."

Often, Estrada said, agents will "rescue" a woman and then find her back working as a prostitute days later. And without her testimony, a case against her alleged trafficker or pimp will often fizzle.

Estrada said he had no statistics on how many rescued women end up leaving the sex industry. He said the number is probably low and that he probably wouldn't want to know it if he could. He said "bean counters" may judge his agents' work on that basis, but he doesn't.

"We will expend whatever funds are necessary to safe a human life," he said, his voice catching at times, "because you can't put a price on human life."

For several days, Phoenix police swept areas known for prostitution. Instead of taking suspects to booking, police took them to a nearby church, where social workers offered housing aid, addiction treatment, help. But the women would have to make a choice.

Local cops, local stings

Prostitution used to be a police issue. In Arizona, more specifically, it was an issue for the Phoenix police, the only department in the region with a dedicated vice squad.

But over the past year, departments across Arizona have held days-long undercover stings aimed at busting potential customers of prostitutes. The aim is not merely stopping prostitution. Officers aim to curb domestic minor sex trafficking.

Over the past two years, 35 officers from across Arizona have been sent to training conducted by the anti-trafficking group Shared Hope International. The training, paid for by grants from groups including the Hickey Family Foundation and Carstens Family Funds, reorients the officers' perspective on the problem.

"It really had my eyes opened to what these girls go through," said Lt. Tom Boelts of the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, who attended the training in Washington, D.C. "I had a completely different understanding of prostitution."

In April, he led a sting operation that resulted in the arrests of seven men. Before then, Boelts said, the last prostitution-related investigation in his county was in 2012. In that case, a 17-year-old had hired a prostitute for his birthday party, Boelts said.

Prostitution was an industry in Yavapai County in the late 1800s. Downtown Prescott was once the center of life for Old West figures like Wyatt Earp and housed brothels along Gurley Street.

“It's trickery. ”

Cindy Castillo, Phoenix attorney

Boelts said his first job in Prescott was at the Gurley Street Grill, a former hotel that housed a brothel upstairs, a tale now told to tourists.

There is no street prostitution in downtown Prescott or anywhere else in the county, Boelts said. The trade has moved online, as he discovered with the sting.

"We do have a demand problem," he said. "We have buyers. We know that."

The women who post online ads in the area are most likely passing through town on their way between bigger cities, he said. "As far as whether we have a ring of girls being trafficked," he said, "we're not sure that's happening."

Similar stings targeting johns have taken place in Tempe, Scottsdale and Phoenix over the past year.

Following the direction given at their D.C. training, departments create phony online ads for prostitutes. The ads don't explicitly advertise underage girls, but during follow-up calls, a female undercover detective will tell the potential buyer she is a minor. Customers who go through with the deal are arrested.

“The problem is you can't find them all.”

Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, ASU researcher

The hope, say activists and police, is that publicity about such operations will keep all buyers of sex away from online channels for prostitution. And doing so will help any underage girls who are being trafficked, as well as adult prostitutes who, law-enforcement officials now have learned, were probably abused or trafficked as teenagers themselves.

But a defense attorney who has handled a few cases of the men arrested say the operations don't find men who desire underage girls. Instead, she said, they find men who were soliciting an adult, a misdemeanor, and end up with a felony.

"It's trickery," said Cindy Castillo, a Phoenix attorney. She said the men who supposedly solicit a teenager end up in motel room with an undercover officer who looks well older than 18. "They're staring at a women who is definitely not 15 or 14 years old," she said.

A Tempe man told that to officers when he was arrested during such a sting in April. The man, according to a police report, answered an online ad posted by undercover detectives who described themselves as "newbies." The ad used other language that law-enforcement officers believe are code words that let buyers know the women are underage.

Over the phone, a detective said she and her friend were 15 and 16 and asked the man to buy them a pack of cigarettes because they were not old enough. The man arrived at the designated hotel with $200 and the cigarettes.

After he was read his Miranda warnings, the married man said he figured the women said they were underage as a lure, but when he saw them they appeared to be in their 20s.

The man is facing two felony counts of child prostitution, one count for each undercover detective in the room.

Setting a goal

ASU researcher Dominique Roe-Sepowitz acknowledged that these stings don't often find true deviants who desire teenagers.

"They're not looking for a little kid. They're not pedophiles," she said. "But if he finds out she's 16 or 17, he still pulls the trigger."

Roe-Sepowitz said that might spring more from laziness — not wanting to go through the process of procuring another woman online.

Still, she said, the efforts are worth it if they eventually curb demand for prostitution.

"The community has to find that a john is unacceptable and warrants punishment," she said. "The end goal being a reduction of victimization," she said.

Roe-Sepowitz does work to help law enforcement find underage girls who post prostitution ads online. She and researchers in her office created a matrix in 2012 to analyze ads, looking for signs and clues that a person is younger than 18.

When she sees an ad she believes shows someone younger than 18, she will alert police, who can make an effort to contact the person in the ad. The efforts have paid off, she said. She opened a red binder filled with ads that she said police have confirmed were of underage girls, including more than 50 found in Arizona.

"The problem is you can't find them all," she said.

On the other end of the process, she has brainstormed efforts such as Project Rose, which has run during trial periods starting in 2011. The latest, and last, was in May.

Later in 2014, Roe-Sepowitz published the findings of her study, which reviewed women given aid instead of jail booking, and women offered aid after booking. The study showed the rates of completing such programs were the same in both groups.

A concerted effort

In July, federal agents around the U.S. worked with police agencies in cities around the country for Operation Cross Country, aimed at rescuing children being sold for sex and arresting those acting as pimps. The operation, according to a news release, netted the recovery of 168 trafficking victims and the arrests of 281 pimps. In Arizona, five children and 42 adults were rescued, while officers arrested 21 pimps and 41 johns.

But police reports from the operation show the issue was more complicated than the numbers of rescues and arrests.

In Yuma, an officer arranged for an encounter with two women at an inn near the Business Loop of Interstate 8. When he identified himself as an officer, the two females in the room ran. Both were apprehended. Officers broke the arm of one, a 20-year-old, as they tried to handcuff her while she writhed away.

The other, 16, did not answer when officers asked for information in reaching her parents. This girl whom the operation was designed to rescue would be booked into custody of juvenile authorities.

In another FBI-aided case in Yuma, an officer arranged a sexual encounter at a different budget motel off the freeway. In the parking lot, police arrested a man they suspected acted as the woman's pimp. In the car they found a second woman.

The man police believed to be the pimp was charged with several prostitution-related counts and was released awaiting trial. He never returned for his scheduled court date. A warrant was issued for his arrest.

Both women were interviewed by officers and told similar tales, according to a police report: They both worked as prostitutes in the San Diego area, giving their proceeds to the man in the car. They came to Yuma because, they said, the man noticed there were relatively few sex ads online.

The report did not give names or ages. But one woman said she started voluntarily working as a prostitute at 17, following in the footsteps of her sisters. She then took a break when she had a child and started again in spring 2014. The other woman said she started working as a prostitute in January 2014 in order to get extra money for school. She had met the suspected pimp just that summer.

Neither woman was booked. Both were listed as victims in the police report.

But the women had few options getting home, according to the police report. The two had $35 between them, no valid driver's licenses, and the rental car they rode in had been rented by a man now in custody, according to the report.

Police contacted a shelter to see if it could help, but it couldn't. So, the report says, the women were taken back to the motel "so they could try and arrange funds to get back to CA."