Search This Blog

Sunday, January 3, 2016

LETTER TO PAUL ABRAMSON AT UCLA

Dear Paul:

I have a question that seeing you know about prostitution and the law - I thought maybe you could help direct me to find the answers to something that's going on right now.

I think you know I started our program as a 12 step program so that we could be used as an "alternative to jail" for those convicted of prostitution, especially in cases where the person was forced to do what they were caught doing when arrested, i.e., a trafficking victim.  I had a board of directors who was guiding me who told me that jails, treatment centers, and alternative sentencing programs can't operate without having a 12 step program and if I ever wanted to see programs for prostitutes develop (remember this was 1987), then I'd have to start with having a 12 step program as a foundation.  

Once I did this, them Mayor Bradley came to me about the overcrowding issue.  The HIV virus had guards scared to come to work.  They wanted the prostitutes out of the jails yesterday.  He set up a committee with one person from the police, one from probation, one from social services, one from prosecutors office, etc.  They all agreed to let us do the first "alternative sentencing" program and allow me to have the prostitutes in the jail.  

They found an empty drug program, Via Avanta, for the women,  and another one for the men,  and they literally went in and cleared out 1800 out of 2000 women who were there on prostitution charges, 400 transgenders, and 20 men. They were taken out of the jail and put into the residential program for the remainder of their time and then those who were coming up were given our meetings instead of jail. 

This was so effective, I was asked to go to Allentown, PA and duplicate this there in 1989.  I set that up and then Vancouver wanted help in 1991.   I went back to Los Angeles, and we set up a duplicate program in San Diego and Orange County.  By the 1994 Shernan Oaks earthquake - I had 6 meetings a week going in a different part of Los Angeles.  We charged nothing and I was told we saved the county about $1,000,000 and made it so they didn't have to build a bigger jail.

In 1994, I moved to Nebraska to buy houses for $5000.  I set up homes there and brought out women from both coasts that I got resettled.  In 1996, I moved to Nevada because no one was going to pick up these women who were stranded out there in these tiny counties.  

Everything was fine until we saw the Trafficking Act of 2000 pass.  We were jamming then.  I saw us get a chapter going in each major city by 2003.   Then Randall Tobias came in with the TVRA of 2003.  It said that you couldn't get funding for victims' unless you stated prostitution was not a job, but a form of rape.   Then Bush stepped in and said no money could be had unless you were a faith based program.  

Only guess what?  The only person who was against prostitution and was faith based was the Hunt Foundation. Suddenly every Salvation Army and Catholic Charity yanked out our meeting space out from under us.   I had the phone ringing from all over the country with women going "what do I do?  I told them "find another meeting hall".  Only not so easy.  You know why?  We had to get insurance.  Can't get insurance when prostitution is illegal and a bunch of prostitutes are meeting.  Some said it could even be called "conspiracy".  

We were told that to get insurance we had to get a release letter from the local police who said they were okay with us meeting.  To do that, we had to tell the police who we were and where we were meeting which violated our anonymity,  Our members weren't going to do that so everyone went up into arms.  I literally had a stroke and almost died.  

I don't know what happened from 2003 until 2006.  The Salvation Army comes to me and asks me to run the Nevada chapter of ATLAS - their trafficking program.  I agreed if they agreed to let us have meeting space back again.  They agreed.  i then told them if they wanted me to fight trafficking i need a translator and someone who would arrest cops.  Suddenly someone else was given the job.  But they told me they needed me to publish a report that trafficking existed where there was legal prostitution.  I agreed.  

While I'm doing this - I keep hearing about meetings of ours.  Only when I would check on them with the local Salvation Army - they would deny this.  What I found was CAASE was funded by the Hunt Foundation.  They had set up 10 programs like Project Rose.   They had asked me if they could use our program with this and I refused.  I told them no one would be threatened into our program.  In these programs - they would threaten to arrest the women, women only, if they didn't attend meetings they said were our program.  Only they used our old name of Prostitutes Anonymous, our old literature, and every time I would confront them - they would deny doing this.  

I finally found enough evidence to get a "cease and desist letter" out.   Without the 12 step program there was no program and they had no choice but to shut down their programs.  They could have formed their own 12 step program - but they didn't.  They just folded.  

When they folded - the word went out to mental health, social services, jail, probation, the courts, police that if you referred a prostitute to our program you'd be fired.  They meant it too and many people were fired.  Anyone who believed in us was in fact fired. 

Then this weird campaign started to get us to change our name.  I started getting bombarded with calls from non-members trying to get us to change our name.    These women told us they "found the name Sex Workers offensive".  Our members were fine with it and told them so.  

I then went to the Los Angeles womens jail and I asked to bring a panel in to speak to the prostitutes.  They said "what prostitutes?"  I'lm like "huh"?  We don't have any prostitutes here - only human trafficking victims.  Okay but they're on prostitution charges.  Then I was pointed to there being no prostitution arrests for juveniles for 2015 at all.

Next thing I know this "No Such Thing" campaign kicks off.   It's fine they want to say there's "no such thing" as a 'sex worker" or "prostitutes" but then I go to the probation department and the prosecutors' office who tells me - we can't put them in an alternative sentencing in our program because these women are "victims" not "prostitutes and "not sex workers".  

Okay that's fine but addicts in NA meetings aren't called "narcotics".  Nor is every addict in there have the disease. Some just are problem users. If these women are victims - they're just as welcome in our program because our program doesn't state our 1st step is over sex work.  Our program is for people who were in some part of the sex industry for any reason who now want to recover for any reason. 

Now if they allow AA for the alcoholic and NA for the addict - can they shut me out of working with the prostitute because they don't agree with our name?  Professor Sharon Oselin by the way got done with a 10 year study into three programs that work with prostitutes and ours came out the best.  The results were published in "Leaving Prostitution".  Each county by the way that's received grant money from the Hunt Foundation, which is religious based,  has put prostitutes in a faith based program which every study ever done on faith based programs has shown they fail - including this one out in 2013 by Sharon Oselin.  The three programs she studied were faith based.  They all three folded.  Ours is still operating.  

Yet right now in these counties the courts are either only recognizing a faith based program or it's ignoring ours and doing nothing.  Further, these programs are taking federal money yet refusing to admit men, transgenders, and the LGBT.  I've complained to the grant sources about it - but it changes nothing.  I've gone to the Attorney General who does nothing because they get a cut. 

Where can I get research on these things?  Any ideas?  Thanks!

--
Jody Williams
(702) 468-4529 Cell Phone
www.sexworkersanonymous.com

No comments:

Post a Comment