Welcome to the New Life Opportunities Nonprofit 501(C)3 Organization. This organization was founded in 2010 as an effort to perform charitable activities and identify individuals engaged in the commercial sex trade industry and provide her/him an alternative to continued involvement in the criminal justice system and/or further victimization. Its members consist of a multi-disciplinary team working together through a comprehensive approach to provide improved access to support and services.
This website provides general information about how the organization supports community partners including local law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and social service agencies. It also includes information on the Dallas S.T.O.P. (Solicitors, Traffickers, and Offenders of Prostitution) School and H.O.P.E. (Healthy Options for Personal Empowerment) Classes and how to register for upcoming classes.
S.T.O.P School registration and H.O.P.E. Classes are found under the How We Support menu option. Select the How We Support Page to get the details on the Stop School or click here. Read through the information on the page and select the ‘click here‘ option to register for the class.
Amid pandemic, Dallas County is devising a new strategy to deal with prostitution cases
For months, the DA’s office simply had to send women back onto the streets. Beginning this month, they get a chance for a fresh start
by Sharon Grigsby – Metro Columnist – The Dallas Morning News – 8/10/2020
Shree Jackson, left, the human trafficking coordinator in the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, and Julie Turnbull, the chief of the office’s restorative Justice division at the Frank Crowley Courts Building. in Dallas. They are leaders in the DA’s new strategy to strike pre-trial intervention agreements with every defendant facing misdemeanor or felony prostitution charges.(Lynda M. Gonzalez / Staff Photographer)
COVID-19′s consequences have fallen hard on the vulnerable women — many already without a shred of hope — who walk Harry Hines Boulevard and other Dallas prostitution hot spots to line the pockets of sex traffickers.
Even when police officers made arrests this year, the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office rejected case after case in order to keep the jail population down and reduce the chance of a coronavirus outbreak behind bars.
But that decision also sent prostitutes back into the arms of waiting pimps.
Thank goodness, beginning this month, the DA’s Office has found a better way forward.
The DA’s office now offers pre-trial intervention agreements that provide a roadmap to a better life. The agreements will allow any individuals arrested on a misdemeanor or felony prostitution charge to be eligible for their case to be dismissed and expunged from their record.
It’s a far superior plan to anything tried before in Dallas County because the offer comes as soon as the DA’s office accepts a case and makes contact with arrested individuals — the vast majority of whom are women — and their attorneys.
“Research shows that outcomes are better if you can get them more quickly connected to services right after arrest,” said Julie Turnbull, chief of the DA’s restorative justice division.
Advocates for the decriminalization of prostitution point out that the sex trade is a complicated spectrum of choice, circumstance and coercion. But the stories that Shree Jackson, the DA’s human trafficking coordinator, documents every week are heartbreakingly similar:
An Irving teen lost her mother to cancer and, with no other family, didn’t know where to turn — or how to pay the bills. Lonely and frightened, she shared her problems with a guy she met online.
Soon the man, who professed to own a carpet-cleaning business, was helping her pay the bills. Then he suggested they move in together to save money.
The next thing she knew, he had locked her in the house with almost no food. Her only option: To work on Harry Hines as a prostitute, which she did until she wound up in the county jail.
Another young woman, who had just aged out of the foster care system, got off a Greyhound bus in downtown Dallas with no money and no one to call.
A guy saw her outside the nearby McDonald’s and offered her a place to stay. Soon, in her mind, they were in a steady relationship. Exchanging sex for cash was the least she felt she could do since he was paying the bills.
“I have not met anyone who wanted to be a prostitute,” said Jackson, who screened more than 200 women facing charges last year. “If they had a choice of doing something else, they would do something else.”
That’s why Turnbull has led a team that early this year began work to overhaul prostitution diversion efforts. “COVID put a wrinkle in everything, and none of us has been happy about that,” she said. “But now we have something we can track with data and be sure it works.”
The new initiative ensures that all prostitution charges from police departments across Dallas County go to a single person in the intake division with a background in these cases, assistant DA Jennifer Kachel. She makes the call on whether to accept a case; if taken, it goes to prosecutor Felicia Kerney, who will as quickly as possible offer the pre-trial intervention agreement.
“It will be very consistent,” Turnbull said. “We aren’t going to exclude anyone based on their criminal history, for instance if they have a drug prior. Once you are charged, you are eligible.”
Jackson will serve as the case manager for those who were arrested on misdemeanor charges and connect them with New Friends, New Life, the Dallas nonprofit that provides rehabilitation services to victims of sex trafficking and the DA’s key partner in the new initiative.
Jessica Brazeal, chief programs officer for New Friends New Life, would most like the public to understand the history of these women and the trauma, and sometimes abuse, that they suffered.
“They didn’t have a healthy, safe, stable childhood then all of a sudden decide, ‘I’m going to go work in prostitution and that’s what I want to do with my life,’” she said.
New Friends New Life previously worked with the DA’s office in a much smaller way to provide a three-hour Hope Class that allowed first-time offenders to get the case off their record.
Now all individuals facing prostitution misdemeanors — including those arrested previously — have the option to complete the nonprofit’s entire first phase in exchange for the case being dropped.
The New Friends New Life program takes between 90 and nine months. Phase one is intended to establish stability and safety; it focuses on counseling, case management and economic lessons.
Financial stability and independence is critical for women in order to avoid a return to prostitution, so most of the time commitment involves two series of intensive soft-skills employment classes.
Finding a “survival job” and holding it for at least 30 days is mandatory. “It may not be your dream job, but it’s any job outside the sex industry,” Jessica Brazeal said.
New Friends New Life believes the opportunity for all participants, not just first-time offenders, to have their record cleaned is huge because that is always the biggest obstacle in getting employment to start a new life.
Lawyers at American Airlines will handle the process of getting the records expunged free of charge for both the misdemeanor and felony cases.
A felony prostitution case results if the individual has been convicted three or more times of the offense. These pre-trial intervention agreements will be handled through the existing STAR diversion court, overseen by Judge Nancy Kennedy of Dallas County Criminal Court No. 2.
But unlike in the past, when diversion agreements came post-plea, these individuals will get the offer immediately. Individuals facing felony cases will receive more intensive assessment and wraparound services related to mental health and substance abuse.
Kennedy told me it’s much smarter to provide the agreement at the beginning. “To face all those tasks, like all the counseling, just for the chance to maybe get off probation early, it’s hard to convince some of these participants that it’s a great thing,” she said.
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot said he’s appreciative that New Friends New Life and American Airlines are helping make the new initiative possible. “Working together we can combat human trafficking and give those charged the second chance they need,” he said.
Jessica Brazeal, chief programs officer for New Friends New Life, says that the chance to get their record expunged is key for women seeking employment options.(Courtesy photo)