HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » Project Rose - helping vi...

Sun May 19, 2013, 11:17 PM

Project Rose - helping victims of sex trafficking in Phoenix

Last edited Mon May 20, 2013, 09:07 AM - Edit history (1)

Some positive news in this sordid industry.


White managed to escape the world of sex trafficking through a program she wants others to know about. Project Rose, now an annual event, is a joint effort by Phoenix Police, ASU School of Social Work and Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office. It offers a diversion program to those picked up in a two sting operation.

Edited title for clarity

9 replies, 4487 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 9 replies Author Time Post
Reply Project Rose - helping victims of sex trafficking in Phoenix (Original post)
ChazII May 2013 OP
BainsBane May 2013 #1
ChazII May 2013 #2
jaclynisradical May 2013 #3
hrmjustin May 2013 #9
ChazII May 2013 #4
ChazII May 2013 #5
ChazII May 2013 #6
jaclynisradical May 2013 #7
ChazII May 2013 #8

Response to ChazII (Original post)

Mon May 20, 2013, 01:27 AM

1. kick

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to BainsBane (Reply #1)

Mon May 20, 2013, 09:05 AM

2. BainsBane, human trafficking

is only one of our nations tragedies. Thank you for kicking this story back. Phoenix and Arizona is backward in many ways but helping victims is one thing that we do right.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to ChazII (Original post)

Tue May 21, 2013, 11:03 AM

3. Do Not Confuse Trafficking With Consenting Adults

How can a diversion initiative like this actively seek out ONLY street based economy sex workers? How is it possible for the police to differentiate trafficked individuals from consenting adults? Oh, that's right. They cannot. This initiative lacks a nuanced analysis of the worker's individual lives and stems from anti-trafficking rhetoric. The organizations involved should be ASHAMED of themselves for teaming up with the police (i.e. Catholic Charities USA, StreetLightUSA, Community Bridges AZ, etc). By treating community members working within the sex industry with a victim-mentality and subsequently re-victimizing them by teaming up with Phoenix PD and having them face the violent, traumatic and brutal reality of being placed under arrest is inherently contradictory and it will scare community members away from these organizations. These organizations are also offered funding to assist with anything anti-trafficking. The completion rate of this program is telling BECAUSE IT STATES THAT IT IS INEFFECTIVE. Shoving services down community members throats by using police force as an impetus goes against what the foundations of social work are and it strips people of their autonomy and agency. Not all workers are victims and not all need to be saved. Shame on YOU 3TV Phoenix and especially YOU Natalie Brand, for this puff piece; a total lack of critical analysis. And shame on ASU School of Social Work for backing this program that actively seeks to criminalize women in poverty.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to jaclynisradical (Reply #3)

Tue May 21, 2013, 08:42 PM

9. Welcome to DU my friend!


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to ChazII (Original post)

Tue May 21, 2013, 01:03 PM

4. A daughter was murdered by a pimp

when she was 19. She was kidnapped from her parents when she was 17. The family attended the same church as I attend at that is how I heard about sexual slavery.

Some women may do it out of free will but many others are slaves. If there is a program that helps 33% then at least those women who want out are getting help. There is a saying, "If this helps just one (child, woman person)...." for many different causes/issues. Well, last year 2 former prostitutes did graduate from the Streetlight program and one is at ASU and the other at a community college. Both are planning on degrees that will help them to help other women trapped in the slave trade.

It reminds me of the starfish story. It made a difference to those starfish the boy saved by tossing them back into the ocean.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to ChazII (Original post)

Tue May 21, 2013, 03:08 PM

5. Project Rose a combination of state/community and church


Working in partnership through a collaborative community effort, officers from across the Phoenix Police Department and a host of community partners (ASU, the City of Phoenix Prosecutors Office, Bethany Bible Church, Catholic Charities, EMPACT, Community Bridges and HealthCare for the Homeless StreetlightUSA, ALERT) fanned out across the city and actively sought those in greatest need of services and support. The team, under the strong leadership and guidance of Phoenix Police Department Lt. Jim Gallagher and Dr. Dominique Roe-Sepowitz PhD of the Arizona State University School of Social Work, conducted 2 twelve hour operations from a command post hosted by Pastor Brad Pellish and Bethany Bible Church and staffed by 116 volunteers.

Project ROSE is an example of using non-traditional and innovative means to address a very traditional issue, one where the focus has typically been on criminalizing a vastly underserved population instead of seeking to understand their victimization, their needs or their inherent dignity. This project has changed that misperception to many people and that, perhaps, is its greatest success.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to ChazII (Original post)

Tue May 21, 2013, 06:15 PM

6. A link from AZ State


Viewing them as victims rather than as criminals, Project ROSE (Reaching Out to the Sexually Exploited) provided hope and assistance to 76 adult prostitutes who have a variety of legal, mental health, addiction and homelessness issues that traps them in a sex-trade life.

“Project ROSE is an example of using non-traditional and innovative means to address a very traditional issue, one where the focus has typically been on criminalizing a vastly underserved population instead of seeking to understand their victimization, their needs or their inherent dignity,” said Phoenix Police Lt. Jim Gallagher, who helped to develop and lead Project ROSE II.


Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, a social work associate professor at ASU, was instrumental in starting Project ROSE in early 2011, working with Phoenix Police and the various community partners to establish this unique program.

“This event is an example of the unique community we have in Phoenix with the City of Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office and the Phoenix Police Department recognizing that the issue of sex trafficking and prostitution are more complex than just a criminal behavior," Roe-Sepowitz said. "Project ROSE was designed by a group of innovative collaborators and at ASU we are conducting the research to follow the participants to evaluate the arrest-alternative approach compared to traditional police and court responses to prostitution arrests.”

This comes from a press release from April 2012.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to ChazII (Reply #6)

Tue May 21, 2013, 08:01 PM

7. Prositution Diversion Initiatives and Condolences

I am sorry for your loss. Please understand that there is a difference between coercion/trafficking and consenting adults. But, what your daughter experienced is not the experience of every sex worker. I interviewed Dr. Roe Sepowitz earlier this year as an unbiased researcher. Her stats were skewed, faulty, and I adamantly disagree with targeting a whole population and treating them ALL as victims. I get that if 33% were helped, that is great, but that means 70% remain incarcerated which, as we know from recent history (see: Marcia Powell 2009 as well as other victims of prison and police violence) incarceration in Arizona can be a death sentence.

Here is my synopsis of my interview with her:
Project ROSE

Project ROSE is a diversion program spearheaded by ASU School of Social Work's Dr. Dominique Roe-Sepowitz that specifically targets Phoenix area "street level" sex workers by using police driven "stings" in order to provide services to sex workers (of which 96.7% are female). The idea originated from a sex trafficking conference Dr. Roe attended in Dallas and is called a prostitution diversion initiative. The organizations that Project ROSE has coordinated with to provide services to sex workers are ASU, the City of Phoenix Prosecutors Office, Bethany Bible Church, Catholic Charities, EMPACT, Community Bridges and HealthCare for the Homeless StreetlightUSA, ALERT.

This project is police driven and first took place in September of 2011 and again in April and October of 2012. The Phoenix Police Dept conducts "very targeted" stings and arrests sex workers. They bring them to an outpost where they are met with city prosecutors that explain to them that they will not be arrested if they complete a diversion program. At this outpost many volunteers from various organizations will assist them to take advantage of a variety of services such as safe housing, healthcare, mental healthcare, clothing, a hot meal, detox and assistance with addiction. Volunteers (mainly students from the ASU School of Social Work) assist the incoming sex workers in obtaining services and "help" for their needs. Ex-sex workers act as "tour guides" and show them around after meeting with the sex worker privately to explain to them how the program works and most likely to convince them to complete it. During the last sting, 55 students vol unteered as well as 30-40 people from various agencies. Most volunteers attend a training session (of which I am not sure how long it lasts, if I remember correctly I think she mentioned it lasted only a few hours) that focuses on boundaries, appropriate behaviors, dress and interactions, and to overall treat the workers with dignity and respect (while simultaneously criminalizing them which is utterly confusing). The sex workers are told they need to complete a diversion program that may take as long as six months and includes weekly group therapy meetings (which focus primarily on trauma and abuse) in order to not be arrested and subsequently charged with prostitution. Approximately 30% of the sex workers complete the program. Other specific details of this diversion program were not noted but may include drug rehabilitation, safe housing options, mental health services, healthcare, etc. but as we noted in the meeting all are meant to somewhat humanize the sex workers in a n attempt to draw them away from the industry.


Dr. Roe was adamant in conveying that all sex workers have been victims of trauma and abuse of some sort. Although she did admit that there are various gradations of sex work (i.e. escorts, internet or "back page," hotel, bar level, etc.) she did specify that this project was targeting "street level" sex workers and that they were always being coerced into sex work by either a boyfriend, a pimp, drug addiction, and absolutely none would choose to be a sex worker by their own admission. She feels it is best to work with the criminal justice system so that it will teach the police as well as the system to treat workers as victims as opposed to criminals.

Dr. Roe acknowledges that there is some level of coercion. She feels that the police must be used as an impetus so that the sex workers can get the help that they need because of their "depraved living style" which is "very uncomfortable." She also acknowledged that if the sex workers knew that there were stings they probably wouldn't come to get the services they need.

When asked if she felt if sex work was inherently bad for women Dr. Roe stated that she doesn't necessarily work with women who trade sex in a way that is empowering or has a lot of agency. These women have lost all agency and someone else is almost always coercing them into sex trading. There are virtually no sex workers that work for choice or do appropriate safety planning. If they had their options they would not choose to be a sex worker. She doesn't think it is good or bad but has not seen anyone out of the 1000 clients that are doing it for themselves.


The recidivism rate for sex workers is 24-32%. Dr. Roe made the point that this percentage is the same as if the sex worker was just put in front of the judge.

A total of 214 clients have been apprehended and approximately 30% have completed the program. The first sting apprehended 51 sex workers, 76 for the second and 87 for the third.

The project will be taking place again in May and again in the Fall. There are plans to have a similar project take place in Tucson sometime within the next couple of months.

3 out of 15 are strippers who have boyfriends that take their money (according to Dr. Roe). This is not actual sex trade but apart of the sex industry and works as a "gateway" for sex workers to take part of sex trade (i.e. "prostitution". Dr. Roe states that "as life falls apart its very each to go on a street corner for many strippers." Ugh. Okay, the point to take from this is that there is a lot of overlap within the gradations of sex work which I have also researched and read about in the past (e.g. boundaries become less defined the longer a dancer is working within the industry and strippers meet clients outside of the club for sex trade, high end escorts sometimes dance in clubs, etc.).

207 (96.7%) of client's are female
3 (1.4%) were male
4 (1.9%) are trans

White: 104 (48.6%)
Hispanic: 35 (16.4%)
African American: 44 (20.6%)
Mixed Race: 19 (8.9%)
Native: 10 (4.7%)
Asian: 2 (.9%)

Ideological Discussion :

(Feel free to add, dispute, correct and/or discuss)
Sex work is legitimate work that should not be criminalized. As we discussed yesterday, all people within a capitalist and patriarchal society are under some form of coercion. The fact that specifically women sex workers are targeted (96.7%) is a blatant reconstruction of criminalizing and chastising women in poverty. Taunting women with a variety of services while holding criminal charges over their heads as an impetus is a form of coercion which completely lacks a nuanced analysis of the complexities of women's individual lives. It is in my opinion that these services should already be available and at the fingertips of these women and that by confronting and attempting to dismantle the patriarchal and capitalist institutions that force women into poverty and subsequent sex work as a means to make ends meet (or whatever else they choose to do with their profits) the choice to be a sex worker can be made without coercion. As it stands now, this choice is criminalized and stigmatized and is typically one made under some form of coercion. Project ROSE, however well it's intentions, is perpetuating the criminalization and stigmatization of women in poverty. By treating and viewing all sex workers as victims inherently takes away their autonomy and agency.

Upon further research, many local non-profits are being offered funding to have anything to do with anti-trafficking campaigns from anti-trafficking projects as well as the federal government. The fact that the recidivism rate of Project ROSE is 30%, the same as putting the arrestee in front of a judge, states that this program is not working and is actually increasing incarcerations and convictions because 70% of workers will return to sex work and if arrested again will be convicted and incarcerated. This is widening the net of the "justice" system.

And here is the problems with prostitution diversion initiatives:

The cities of Phoenix and Tucson have recently instituted new prostitution diversion initiatives called Project ROSE and Project RAISE respectively. The Sex Workers’ Outreach Project chapters in both cities are opposed to these initiatives, and diversion programs in general. Prostitution Diversion Initiatives are often lauded as the future of social services, and are championed by a host of well meaning people and organizations. However, the goals they say they seek to accomplish, and their claims to help sex workers and victims of exploitation are false promises. This is why.

1. PROSTITUTION DIVERSION PROGRAMS ARE NOT A TRUE ALTERNATIVE TO INCARCERATION. They widen the net of criminal justice control by making arrest a permissible way to ‘help.” More people are arrested for prostitution-related offenses and more people are brought into the criminal justice system, This means increased costs for states and localities, as well as for those apprehended and their families.

2. ALL PEOPLE WHO ARE ARRESTED FOR PROSTITUTION ARE NOT VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING. Proponents of diversion programs focus primarily on how these programs are helping those who are trafficked or coerced into prostitution. However, policy makers have changed legal definitions in many places so that nearly all people arrested for prostitution charges are classified as victims of trafficking, regardless of their situation and consent. This creates the illusion that diversion programs are saving victims rather than arresting consenting sex workers and requiring them to identify as victims in order to avoid incarceration and receive services that should already be available.

3. PROSTITUTION DIVERSION PROGRAMS DO NOT PROVIDE SERVICES TO THE PEOPLE WHO NEED THEM MOST. These programs only serve to continue to criminalize people in poverty. People who need services the most, namely women in poverty, people with a history of arrest, homelessness, or addiction usually do not qualify for diversion programs.

4. THE MAJORITY OF POLICE STING OPERATIONS TARGET CONSENTING SEX WORKERS AND UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS. Diversion programs are used as an impetus and rationale for increased police raids. These raids are not only performed by local law enforcement, but by members of the FBI and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement.) These raids seek to apprehend anyone they can arrest for any reason, not just trafficked persons.

5. ARRESTING OFFICERS ARE GIVEN THE POWER TO DISQUALIFY AN ARRESTEE FROM A DIVERSION PROGRAM. Someone arrested for prostitution is qualified or disqualified at the discretion of the arresting officer. Many sex workers experience violence and trauma at the hands of law enforcement. Arresting officers should not have the power to make decisions about sex workers participation in diversion programs or their access to social services.

5. PROSTITUTION DIVERSION INITIATIVES LACK ANALYSIS OF SEX WORKER’S INDIVIDUAL LIVES AND LEAD TO INCREASED INCARCERATION. Imagine being pulled out of your workplace and told to either undergo arrest, or quit your job and take time out of your life in order to complete a program that may take up to six months. How would you pay your bills? How would you take care of your children or other family members? Many people are unable to complete diversion programs because they still need to work. If they do not succeed in completing the program, they face their original charges, often with increased likelihood of incarceration.

6. LOCAL ARIZONA BASED PROSTITUTION DIVERSION INITIATIVES HAVE THE SAME RECIDIVISM RATE AS PUTTING THE ARRESTEE IN FRONT OF THE JUDGE. The recidivism rate for local prostitution initiatives is approximately 30%. This is the same rate as if the arrestee was put in front of a judge with no diversion program or required services.



[email protected]

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to jaclynisradical (Reply #7)

Tue May 21, 2013, 08:29 PM

8. Thank you for posting this.

I am going to bookmark this thread so I can get to your post quickly. I appreciate the research that you put into this subject.

Thank you for the remark about the loss of my daughter. It was confusing the way I wrote the reply but it was a friend's daughter.

Again, thank you for your thoughtful reply. This is a topic I really want to learn more about. If you live in Arizona we are lucky to have you as a resident.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread