Dallas’ prostitution diversion program effective in helping sex workers leave the streets

Dallas’ prostitution diversion program effective in helping sex workers leave the streets

By Christina Rosales
10:06 am on April 16, 2013

In a report released by the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, policy experts say the Dallas Police Department’s Prostitution Diversion Initiative is a cost effective way to keep the community safe and succeeds in helping sex workers leave the industry.

According to the report, Texas incarcerates sex workers at a higher rate than any other state, and the punitive policies have not resulted in a decrease in prostitution cases. Instead, the report says, the approach has resulted in higher costs for communities and has created barriers for arrested sex workers when they are released and attempt to reform their lives.

But, the Coalition’s report uses Dallas’ 6-year-old diversion program as an example of an effective way to both keep communities safe and help women leave the sex industry. The initiative searches for prostitutes on a regular basis, then takes them to a mobile set up, usually at a truck stop, and provides STD screening, provides immediate resources such as food and clothing and offers them the option to participate in a recovery program.

Dallas’ initiative has been able to connect agencies including the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department and the county’s Health and Human Services. Our Tristan Hallman reported on county and state officials lauding the program last month as a model for the rest of Texas to follow.

The reports says programs such as this “treat individuals engaged in prostitution as victims rather than criminals, and they offer an array of services that enable sex workers to find other livelihoods if they so choose.” click here to read the TCJC report…

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