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Church State Issues

Phoenix Police force prostitutes to accept Jesus???

Apr 25, 2012

Arizona Republic

Mixing government and religion in Arizona by forcing prostitutes to accept Jesus???

I believe in this program the city of Phoenix and Arizona State University are partnering with religious groups to help stop prostitution.

Instead of arresting the prostitutes the police take them to a church where the religious folks attempt to set them straight.

I attached an earlier article from Sept 24, 2011 which documents the religious connections better.

Phoenix police fight prostitution with a human approach

Program aims to link suspects, social services

by JJ Hensley - Apr. 24, 2012 09:24 PM

The Republic |

It was just before 6 a.m. on a recent weekday morning, and a broad coalition of police and social workers at the Bethany Bible Church activity center buzzed about the imminent arrival of prostitutes.

Dozens of women would move through the center over the next two days, hauled in by police who arrested the prostitution suspects in undercover operations. Yet each would be given the opportunity to avoid a conviction by successfully completing a diversion program that is the result of a unique collaboration between the Phoenix Police Department and Arizona State University's School of Social Work.

The goal is simple: Get prostitutes off the streets and in touch with social-service providers as soon as possible.

By 7:15 a.m. last Thursday, officers had made contact with their first woman, who was picked up in an undercover operation near 21st and Glenrosa avenues. Between 6 a.m. Thursday and 12 a.m. Saturday, more than 100 volunteers worked with 71 women, one man and four transgender suspects. The ages ranged from 19 to 55 years old.

ASU professor Dominique Roe-Sepowitz spearheaded Project Rose's first attempt last September and found the early results encouraging, with nearly 30 percent of the eligible suspects completing the diversion program.

While volunteers worked last week with prostitution suspects, undercover investigators patrolled the Internet looking for activity and patrol officers saturated the streets looking for more. Detectives collected as much information as possible from those arrested to try to develop larger criminal cases against the people responsible for putting the suspects to work.

"The problem is just a symptom of something greater," Phoenix police Lt. Jim Gallagher said as he steered his unmarked car through areas known for prostitution, pointing out activity already taking place in the early-morning hours.

"Rarely is any criminal group involved in just one type of crime," he said.

The program is the most recent manifestation of a change in the way Phoenix police approach prostitution, which was largely viewed as a quality-of-life issue until officers discovered a 15-year-old girl in 2005 whose pimp kept her locked inside a dog crate.

Investigators have now come to view prostitutes as human-trafficking victims, and they increasingly focus on targeting the pimps as traffickers, Gallagher said, likening their organizations to drug-smuggling rings.

Project Rose is the first step in that holistic approach to addressing prostitution, Gallagher said. It requires support from the highest levels of the agency.

"It's unusual for me to go to my boss and say, 'I need 100 guys for 24 hours, and I'm not going to make any arrests,' " Gallagher said. "But because of the work we are doing and our department's commitment to impacting sex trafficking, I get those resources without question. ...

"I think the perspective of 'the world's oldest profession' and 'two consenting adults' is changing."

Changing that perspective also requires prosecutors to change, said Kent McCarthy, a bureau chief in the Phoenix Prosecutor's Office. McCarthy estimated he has put hundreds of prostitutes behind bars during his career, but last week, he sat at a table trying to help prostitutes stay out of jail.

The city has another prostitution-diversion program that requires suspects to plead guilty, with a promise to drop the charges if the diversion is successfully completed. Project Rose offers the same diversion but puts women in touch with counselors and social-service providers within hours of their arrests. That avoids the weeks or months it can traditionally take.

If the candidates fail to complete either program they are charged as if diversion were never offered and face jail time ranging from 15 to 180 days, depending on how many times they've been caught.

Success rates between the two programs are about the same.

The pre-conviction diversion saves taxpayers the costs of jail and court time -- Phoenix police estimate last week's program saved the department $30,000 in booking costs alone -- and closes that crucial window between a suspect's arrest and the opportunity for rehabilitation.

Health-care workers last week treated three people for injuries related to sexual assault; mental-health providers referred three people to crisis services; and 10 prostitution suspects spent the night in emergency shelters or safe houses.

"We don't consider ourselves soft on crime by doing this," McCarthy said. "We consider ourselves smart on crime."

After prosecutors explained the diversion plan last week, suspects met with counselors from the Catholic Charities Dignity program, which relies on women who've left prostitution to counsel others on what it takes to break free of "the life."

Catherine Ochoa, 51, spent years working in the city's Sunnyslope area and was arrested more than 15 times for prostitution and drug charges before she had a moment of clarity while standing on the corner of 19th Avenue and Mountain View Road in May 2006.

Ochoa had lost her children to foster care and said she was increasingly convinced that she would spend the rest of her days trying to trade sex for crack cocaine on the streets of Sunnyslope. Eight days later, Ochoa was arrested.

"They didn't arrest me, they rescued me," Ochoa said last week as she prepared to work with some of the recent arrestees. "At some point, I knew I wanted to get out of the life, I just didn't know how. Here, we show them how."


Police, ASU offer option to deter prostitution

by Ofelia Madrid - Sept. 24, 2011 12:25 AM

The Arizona Republic

PHOENIX - Phoenix police and Arizona State University have partnered to give prostitutes in Phoenix an alternative to arrest.

Through a pilot program called Project Rose, Phoenix officers who arrested prostitutes on Thursday and Friday took them to Bethany Bible Church in central Phoenix, where the women were offered an arrest alternative.

The adult prostitutes who met the guidelines, and had no more than four prostitution arrests, were given on-site access to social services, including food, shelter, clothing, health care and detox. Through this program, the prostitutes aren't sent to jail or prosecuted. If they complete the diversion program, which can take up to six months, they avoid the arrest on their record.

As of Friday afternoon, about 40 women had signed up for the program, scheduled to last through Friday night.