ACLU Looking Into Phoenix's "Project ROSE" Prostitution Busts

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona is looking into the program known as "Project ROSE," which involves sending suspected prostitutes to a church-based diversion program as an option to avoid jail.

The ACLU has filed records requests seeking a wealth of information on the program, which is a collaboration between the Phoenix Police Department and Arizona State University's School of Social Work.

According to a report from Al-Jazeera last year, Phoenix PD sets up prostitution stings twice a year, in which suspected prostitutes are detained and offered a chance to avoid jail, with a trip to Bethany Bible Church in Phoenix.

According to an ASU press release:
The victims (prostitutes) received options for safe housing, crisis mental health counseling, medical services, options for detox and drug treatment, food, clothes and their initial interview for the Diversion Program provided by Catholic Charities, and most significantly, the opportunity to change their life. Upon completion of the Diversion Program, which can be a six-month commitment, charges will not be filed on the originating case and the individual can begin to move forward with their life and reclaim their dignity.
Not only is there an apparent problem with organizing busts to send people to a church-backed charity program, but a local group, the Sex Workers Outreach Project of Phoenix, has protested the program because they don't want to be "rescued" from anything.

Sex workers are out there to make money, not as "victims," according to the Sex Workers Outreach Project.

Now, the ACLU has submitted records requests for all kinds of information about the program, including funding information, all kinds of documents about training and background of Project ROSE, and documentation of the police sting operations.

For more information currently available about the workings of the program, check out VICE's story, "Project ROSE is arresting sex workers in Arizona to save their souls."

Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.
Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.



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65 comments
shelby1
shelby1

Prostitution is illegal in Arizona. The City of Phoenix Prosecutor's Office contracts with Catholic Charities DIGNITY Diversion, through a open-bid RFP process, to provide a non-sectarian diversion alternative to jail. The program and Project ROSE both rely on peer-counseling by mentors who are survivors of the sex trade. The diversion program has been validated and the data published in peer-reviewed studies.

The DIGNITY Diversion Program is available to women, men, and transgendered individuals who have been charged with prostitution. (Persons who have completed the program and re-offend, however, are ineligible to participate.)

Project ROSE is an initiative to bring social services and earlier intervention to individuals who would otherwise select div...ersion after charges have been filed. The primary Project ROSE partners are the Phoenix Police Department, the Arizona State University School of Social Work, the Phoenix City Prosecutor's Office, and the Catholic Charities DIGNITY Diversion  Program. Some of the other agencies providing services are EMPACT (mental health services), Community Bridges (drug detox services), and Streetlight USA (safe housing services).

Project ROSE operates from the facilities of Bethany Bible Church. When the City was looking for a facility that would open its doors to a program which brings prostituted persons on its campus, Bethany Bible offered their facility with no-strings attached. The facility has private work spaces for each of the social service agencies, a kitchen (from which workers, clients, and police officers are invited to dine without charge), a private area where volunteer healthcare workers can diagnose, treat, and/or refer patients, and a staging area where clothing - including clean underwear and socks - is available. There is no religious component or content to Project ROSE. Other than facility maintenance, the clergy and congregants of Bethany Bible are not participants. (In fact, on the one occasion a participant asked to speak with clergy, we were unable to locate anyone.)

The main bone of contention between Project ROSE and its critics is, I believe, philosophical. At the SWOP rallies I saw signs that said Prostitution Is Not A Crime. I take that to be a philosophical position because, in Arizona, prostitution IS a crime. Project ROSE's goal is to enforce the law in the most humane manner possible. Make no mistake, anyone charged with prostitution in Phoenix can decline the diversion alternative and proceed through the judicial process with all its legal protections and consequences.

SWOP is probably right that most of the individuals seen by Project ROSE are poor. From my years of experience, I have observed that the (mostly) women who work the streets and Backpage ads are poor. Who else would get in a car or go to the motel room of a stranger - with the risks of violence, disease, and degradation - to perform a $20 blowjob?

Some are mentally ill, many are substance abusers, some are trafficked by pimps or family, some are on the streets so they can eat or spend the night in a cheap motel. Most of the participants who choose to be transported to Project ROSE rather than jail are not budding capitalists, but exploited victims.  Project ROSE offers these people an opportunity to exit the sex trade and avoid the stigma of a prostitution conviction.

Daniel Riley
Daniel Riley

I would be very surprised if the ACLU's theory pans out. I know some of the people involved in Project ROSE, I've attended seminars where they've presented their findings and discussed their approach, and I've spoken with some of the women who have graduated through the program. The topic of religion has NEVER come up. I think people are reading too much into the fact that religious organizations are involved in the project. Just because Catholic Charities is a partner agency doesn't mean they're proselytizing. Catholic Charities is involved a wide array of non-religious social services.

Stacey Ray
Stacey Ray

Thats why they're given a choice if you read it. Nobody was forced.

Stina Ry
Stina Ry

NO, the ACLU is "looking into" it, to see if it is true that people are being forced to choose between jail and jesus. And if it is true, then the ACLU will probably sue, and win, because it is a clear violation of the First Amendment.

Jeffrey Davis
Jeffrey Davis

Believe in Jesus Christ or go to jail? Jesus himself would be appalled.

Kirk Dooley
Kirk Dooley

Better than getting busted by Sheriff Joe's Pussy Posse. (There was no shortage of deputies volunteering for that unit, as I recall.)

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

The simple fact of the matter is:


Prostitution should be legal!

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

Forcing "whores" into church...................since Lisa Allen said Joe was a media "whore" .......when are they gonna cuff him up and make him go to that church?

davephx
davephx

Very few rounded up are from the streets. Many are $200-$500/hr that police give fake references to or otherwise entrap.  If they refuse to play the victim game they face mandatory at least 15 days in jail.   Most are outcall escorts, legal in all most all the world except the U.S. and no big deal. 

We have the Hunt sisters (oil dynasty) with $100 millions of funding for the scam of children and trafficking based on totally bogus, discredited phony research with the stated goal of eliminating all commercial sex.    

We have a huge womens and now separate men's group of wealthy to promote this scam again using the false lies of children and trafficking. 


They also use the discredited research of Farley, whose friend of the Court reserach was totally rejected as bogus and bias by the Ontario Court that struck down the Candian prostituion laws against incalls and street communications.  Outcall of course like most in Phoenix have always been legal as in most of the world outside the U.S.

$Millions are wasted going after in private consenting adults that funds the "victim industry"   When a escort has a friend, boyfriend or husband that helps with appointments or takes calls, everyone involved faces years in prison as  a "criminal enterprise."  Many such cases now in Superior Court. 

For example the Phoenix Temple is now in its 3rd year with the 3rd judge and are being threatened with 70 years in prison (including in Donald Advisement from the Judge) if they don't take a felony plea but with probation.  Their crime?  Very little evidence of in a few of the 37 indicted may have offered a hand release as part of their spiritual beliefs.    In one case the undercover cop when was short of money for a donation (car towed and needed the suggested $204/hr for spiritual healing, insisted she take $20 even though she said don't worry could contribute what could later.  And that was the basis of the prostitution bust.  3TB of data recovered from 30+ computers of women took 6-9 months of forensic recovery and then was tossed out as evidence.   All at the taxpayers expense.  This is just one example of the attack on private consenting adults. 

The military has always had a sexual outlet provided, and studies show the most sexually repressed cultures are also the most violent.  Sexuality is a natural basic human need and desire.  

In biblical times, many wives, concubines, and "common" prostitutes (not the idolatry in the Temples) is has no negative inferences and often mentioned in the bible. 

JoeArpaioFan
JoeArpaioFan

The ACLU is a bunch of crybaby libtards, especially their gook Chinawoman. There's nothing to look into.

Rachel Adaline
Rachel Adaline

its a blessing for these girls to be given another chance !

Heather Francis
Heather Francis

Hey its the church we use. But we don't associate with that program Anna Leyva

Chera King
Chera King

You can't force people into choosing religion by threatening them with jail instead.

James P. Krehbiel
James P. Krehbiel

I find ASU's Social Work Department's statement unprofessional at best. To assume that most prostitutes view themselves as "victims " who need to "reclaim their lives" is puzzling. I applaud their efforts to help others but this program appears to be a legally tangled mess.

Tom Lucas
Tom Lucas

@kim: why? What am I missing?

Kim Markley Nelson
Kim Markley Nelson

I can't believe it's taken this long hopefully project rose will be no more.

Derek J Cooper
Derek J Cooper

My understanding was they use the church as a venue for social services, not as a place of worship. Which is not an uncommon practice. Also I'm with Kyle, this publication does more a disservice to people when it posts mugshots in an attempt to vilify and embarrass.

Tom Lucas
Tom Lucas

So the ACLU wants to derail a program designed to give working girls a way out? The world is turned upside down. I like ACLU, but this the reverse of trying to help out the downtrodden.

Jimmy Green
Jimmy Green

There goes the price of hookers again.

Doug Cleland
Doug Cleland

good. let me know when so I can score with them after mass.

Kyle Hague
Kyle Hague

where's the part where Phoenix New Times posts their mugshots and makes fun of them?

Joe Kennedy
Joe Kennedy

The sickness of religion in this country is out of hand.

Patty Roy
Patty Roy

So it's bad to try to help them?

Kenn Kanniff
Kenn Kanniff

shouldn't even be illegal, but we live in a country where masses of religious folks would like our Constitution replaced with the bible.

adelitas
adelitas

I think we should be like mexico where parents are proud to send their daughters to the border city brothels in order to serve the rich americans. It's quite charming the way the fathers brag when their daughters are awarded "best blowjob" or "gringos choice" (the major award in tijuana's zona norte brothels). These daughters are some of the only mexicans that I have any use for and I appreciate them and tip their parents a dollar or two when possible.

johnlancaster85035
johnlancaster85035

Some conversation were having here.Does trying to get an education come to mind.How to be a productive member of society ring a bell?

sissyjohnson
sissyjohnson

Yes, a lot of these programs purposely remain neutral so that the treatment is more effective. 

insubwhoredinate
insubwhoredinate

Ofc they aren't "forced"! They're just told they face jail time and criminal record, and social stigma, and police harassment, and maybe lose their kids if they say no. That's not force at all! That's totally free will, no coercion.

gregbpc
gregbpc topcommenter

You're missing it's not JUST believe in Jesus or go to jail, it's commit a CRIME, then decide what you want to do.  No one HAS to do the program if they don't want.  Seems the program should be  geared more toward crackwhores, than girls "escorts" who do it more to make a good living.  Not all sexwork is created equal. 

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

it's bad to force them to take your "help", particularly when that means indoctrinating them into a religious cult.


hongkongmensclub
hongkongmensclub

@adelitas godammit you guys! what kind of sickos would like that comment? If I get a like or any sort positive reply at the new times, I know that I haven't lived up to my posting potential.

Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

@johnlancaster85035  How are the not being productive?? They are earning money, paying for themselves.. many pay taxes on the income.


Many are going to school, or already have an education or a start on one.


Does not making assumptions about a subject you clearly know nothing or little about ring a bell?


Why is it illegal in the first place?? There is no societal reason for it.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@Flyer9753 @johnlancaster85035 


When deciding if a person is "a productive member of society", it may help to consider them in relation to a few other career choices, such as televangalist, homeopathic physician, and the people who call to lower your interest rates.


johnlancaster85035
johnlancaster85035

@Flyer9753 @johnlancaster85035 MR.Flyer 007...Everyone is entitled to have an opinion.

Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

@valleynative @Flyer9753 @johnlancaster85035  Wow Valley, you really surprise me at times.


I will admit I was leaning towards believing you thought otherwise, but wanted to give you the chance to explain and I am glad you did.


I agree.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@Flyer9753 @valleynative@johnlancaster85035 

I was thinking that it's clear that prostitutes are the more productive members of society.

But considering how blind some people can be on subjects like this, I can understand how you might believe that I meant otherwise, if I was one of those people.

Prostitution is one of many (too many) areas where people have strongly held opinions that they've never stopped to question.

 

Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

@valleynative @Flyer9753 @johnlancaster85035  And your point with this comparison is what? 


You said what you would compare them too, but not what (in your opinion) the result of that comparison is... so your point is what exactly?


This should be interesting.

Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

@johnlancaster85035  Sure, and I just expressed mine and asked you to back up yours.


Which you didn't and can't do, so what youare really saying is 'I (Johnlancaster85035) am entitled to my wrong opinion' 


since if your 'opinion' had any merit, you would be able to defend it.


The fact you didn't even bother speaks volumes

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