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April 16, 2014 5:14 AM   Subscribe

Project ROSE is a Phoenix city programme that arrests sex workers in the name of saving them. In five two-day stings, more than 100 police officers targeted alleged sex workers on the street and online. They brought them in handcuffs to the Bethany Bible Church. There, the sex workers were forced to meet with prosecutors, detectives, and representatives of Project ROSE, who offered a diversion programme to those who qualified. Those who did not may face months or years in jail.
posted by urbanwhaleshark (86 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Absolutely nothing of Project ROSE makes sense. It's either legal or it's not, so either charge the people arrested and get them help or leave them the hell alone. Compelling them to attend these courses by fudging the law is breaking the law, how on earth is the Police involvement allowed? Yet another reason why I steer clear of Arizona.
posted by arcticseal at 5:27 AM on April 16 [7 favorites]


Sure it makes sense. It lets the city be "tough on crime," it feeds public money to a church, and who cares if it violates the civil rights of sex workers? It's a win-win for everyone (who counts).
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:32 AM on April 16 [26 favorites]


Actual reference to precious bodily fluids in there, which, I guess, tells me everything I need to know about that project.
posted by Leon at 5:33 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


In Arizona, I'm guessing a sex worker is lucky if he or she isn't stoned to death.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:46 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


Sounds familiar. They just haven't gotten all the way to setting up the laundries yet.
posted by kewb at 5:49 AM on April 16 [10 favorites]


In Arizona, I'm guessing a sex worker is lucky if he or she isn't stoned to death.

There's a certain type of person that I'm hesitant to mention to that the story of the woman taken in adultery is possibly interpolated for fear that it's the only thing keeping them from stoning adulterous women.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:55 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


I just, I don't... what the hell is wrong with Arizona? Florida gets all the press for the gonzo kooky people and crimes, but it's always Arizona for the double-take jaw-drop obscenely unconstitutional stuff. It can't just be old white people; they live in Florida too. Did the state take out a full page ad in "Fascist Monthly" or something? Could someone explain this to me?
posted by leotrotsky at 5:56 AM on April 16 [22 favorites]


California to the west, Nevada to the North, and New Mexico to the east - the black hatted mustache twirlers need somewhere to go. I fully expect Sheriff Joe to announce a new program for single mothers who are also property owners that involves tying them to railroad tracks to get their mortgage.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:08 AM on April 16 [15 favorites]


And thus the Talibanization of the Christian right in this country continues, with nary a hint of self-awareness. How much do you want to bet many of the people that support this fulminate daily about the Kenyan Muslim usurper and his desire to impose sharia law?
posted by zombieflanders at 6:09 AM on April 16 [7 favorites]


I was born in Arizona and got as as soon as I could (age 5). I've never understood Arizona. I have good friends there. The desert is beautiful but many people are crazy. They seem to enjoy being part of America but not a day goes by when the pass laws and do shit like in the article that is unconstitutional.

I think the heat might cook some of their brains a little and that might cause it.
posted by birdherder at 6:09 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Not obvious to me this is unconstitutional or illegal. May just be shitty policy.
posted by jpe at 6:10 AM on April 16


Not obvious to me this is unconstitutional or illegal. May just be shitty policy.

Q1. Are these women being arrested or being charged with a crime? This is a YES or NO question.

Q2. Are these women being detained, or are they free to leave? Again, this is a YES or NO question.

Q3. If they are being detained, what is the grounds for that detention?

Police may only detain without arrest so long as is reasonably necessary to conduct an investigation to determine whether criminal activity has occurred. Is that what is occurring here?
posted by leotrotsky at 6:17 AM on April 16 [37 favorites]


Not obvious to me this is unconstitutional or illegal.

That's a real fine recommendation you got there.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:19 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Women With a Vision is an organization in New Orleans that does actual good work with and for sex workers and other marginalized women. There was a great piece about them in a recent issue of the New Yorker. In case you're wondering if there could possibly be other ways to help women who are sex workers.
posted by rtha at 6:19 AM on April 16 [11 favorites]


They were detained on probable cause of prostitution. They were then given the choice of arrest or pretrial diversion. Like I said, that may be lousy policy but I don't see why that would be unconstitutional, and I'm not inclined to give much benefit of the doubt on constitutional analysis to Vice.
posted by jpe at 6:19 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Not obvious to me this is unconstitutional or illegal. May just be shitty policy.

Among other things, a church is not a police station.
posted by Foosnark at 6:19 AM on April 16 [31 favorites]


Because being manacled without charge and being coerced to adhere to an experiment in fundamental Catholicism or face a lengthy prison sentence where you might die is the American Way?
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 6:20 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Among other things, a church is not a police station.
And?

There could well be constitutional infirmities if the state pushed people into a religous program and didn't provide secular alternatives, but I didn't see that angle pushed in the piece.
posted by jpe at 6:21 AM on April 16


I don't know much about "constitutional", being a foreigner and all, but exactly how does this differ from kidnapping? Far as I know, the state has two choices: either arrest you or let you go on about your business. Dragging you by the scuff of your neck to meet Jesus is generally not an option.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 6:24 AM on April 16 [14 favorites]


I didn't see that angle pushed in the piece.

I did. Guess we're agreed it's unconstitutional then, eh?
posted by octobersurprise at 6:26 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Not obvious to me this is unconstitutional or illegal. May just be shitty policy.

There are constitutional protections for people who are being detained or arrested. The government emphatically does not have a carte blanche to simply frogmarch people into a place (a church or otherwise) and prevent them from leaving.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:26 AM on April 16 [13 favorites]


Is this a Sherriff Joe initiative? Because it sounds like one of his bullshit populist excuses for jackbooted thuggery.
posted by vuron at 6:29 AM on April 16 [7 favorites]


I did. Guess we're agreed it's unconstitutional then, eh?

The entirety is here:
Monica described the class as having the religious overtones of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
So is court-ordered AA unconstitutional?
posted by jpe at 6:30 AM on April 16


The government emphatically does not have a carte blanche to simply frogmarch people into a place (a church or otherwise) and prevent them from leaving.
It sounded like they said something akin to: go through this process or we'll arrest you.

Show me a case where that's been found unconstitutional.
posted by jpe at 6:31 AM on April 16


So is court-ordered AA unconstitutional?

Where's the court that ordered this?
posted by Slothrup at 6:32 AM on April 16 [10 favorites]


So is court-ordered AA unconstitutional?
Only after, y'know, a court hearing, including due representation before a judge and/or jury.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:33 AM on April 16 [20 favorites]


Doesn't a person have to be arrested before court-ordered AA come into play? Or how else does it get to court? This hasn't happened in these cases.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 6:33 AM on April 16


Here's another article on the program.

It sounds like it's helping people who don't enjoy being a sex worker as much as the protagonist of the Vice article.
posted by michaelh at 6:33 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


If it was a court monitored program that allows people to take part in the activities in lieu of jail time it seems like it would probably pass muster but if it's just taking in people who "look" like sex workers and coercing them into attending these programs it sounds like it's crossing the line. Knowing Vice the truth is probably somewhere in between as Vice is kinda known for sensationalizing at times but still this type of program has tons of potential for abuse and probably needs to be tightly monitored by someone other than Vice cops.
posted by vuron at 6:37 AM on April 16


It sounded like they said something akin to: go through this process or we'll arrest you.

No, it went far beyond this. From the article:

"In the Bethany Bible Church, those arrested were not allowed to speak to lawyers. Despite the handcuffs, they were not officially 'arrested' at all."

Surely you are not unaware of things like "right to counsel". Read any law school outline for Crim Pro.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:39 AM on April 16 [15 favorites]


It sounds like it's helping people who don't enjoy being a sex worker as much as the protagonist of the Vice article.

Or not: Fighting Back: Monica Jones Battles Phoenix’s Project ROSE (emphasis mine)
“This is criminalization under the guise of social work. It’s police-driven and its foundation is victim ideology, treating all sex workers as victims in need of help. It’s problematic in a lot of ways, but it’s most problematic in the way it discards the voices of the population it’s seeking to serve. We don’t want this in Phoenix. They’re actually seeking out women in poverty; 96 percent of those affected are women. It’s harmful,” Moskal-Dairman said.

The SWOP-Phoenix founder says Project ROSE only has a success rate of 30 percent, which is the same success rate for women who go in front of a judge without a diversion program. The program also costs tax payers money by adding more police officers to the street, which Jones says endangers the communities she inhabits.

“It’s dangerous out there for poor women, women of color, and trans women. I’m all of those things and I’m being told that because I was once a sex worker, I will always be seen as a sex worker. They’re trying to convict me off of my priors. Social workers have ethics and Project ROSE violates social work code,” Jones said.

In 2011, the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force released Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, which revealed that transgender and gender non-conforming people have higher levels of interaction with police because they are more likely to be on the street in part, because their circumstances “often force them to work in the underground economy and because they face harassment and arrest simply because they are out in public while being transgender.”

Fifty-four percent of the study’s respondents reported having contact with the police, with 22 percent reporting they were harassed by police officers because of bias. This number increases dramatically – up to 38 percent –for trans people of color.

Moskal-Dairman is certain her friend was profiled, saying Jones was stopped multiple times after the initial run-in with the undercover officer and that SWOP-Phoenix has video of police profiling Jones and using discriminatory language against her.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:39 AM on April 16 [16 favorites]


The proper way to help victims of the sex trade is, of course, to illegally detain them and teach them to go with Christ. I have the moral sense of a scrap heap
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:39 AM on April 16 [9 favorites]


On the one hand, I'm very uncomfortable about this -- particularly the ways in which the moral disapproval of sex (i.e. "precious bodily fluids") intersects with religion and the state. On the other hand, sex work is illegal in most places in the US -- and it's not the job of the police to make the law, only to enforce it.
posted by Slothrup at 6:39 AM on April 16


There are a few strands of legal issues going on here.

1. Is the program unconstitutionally religious? That's why AA is relevant here. If AA isn't impermissibly religious, neither is this based on the facts we have from the Vice article.

2. Does the program violate rights to counsel, etc.? As mentioned, it doesn't seem clear to me why prosecutors would have to formally charge someone prior to offering the option of diversion. If someone knows that definitively, great, but it's far from obvious that that is unconstitutional.
posted by jpe at 6:40 AM on April 16


Not practicing criminal law, so pretrial diversion is something I'm unfamiliar with. Anyone interested in the case law can look here (pdf warning). jpe is not coming out of left field with his comments. Which, mind you, doesn't mean that he's right.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:41 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


jpe: Not obvious to me this is unconstitutional or illegal.

I don't see how having a church, a very specific creed at that, act as a courthouse isn't running afoul of the Effect and Entanglement prongs of the Lemon test.
posted by spaltavian at 6:41 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Sex Work Wars: Project ROSE, Monica Jones and the Fight for Human Rights
Jones said that a white woman in the rich part of town does not have to worry about being stopped by the cops, but as an outspoken activist and a transwoman of color, she is a prime target for police surveillance and arrest. If cops decide they don't like her, she said, they target her for the way she looks. Since her arrest last year, Jones has been singled out for police harassment and has been approached or detained three times near her home or walking around town. Sex worker advocates compare the "manifesting prostitution" statute to Arizona's notorious "show me your papers law," which critics say invites the police to profile and target Latinos and anyone else who looks or sounds like they may be from another country.

"This law does not apply across the board," Jones said. "It applies to specific minorities and a specific area. If you look at this area, who's in this area? Poor people and people of color."
[...]
After her arrest, Jones was taken to Project ROSE, where she asserted her innocence and asked to see a defense attorney, but she was told that the only lawyer she could talk to was a prosecutor. Like others taken by police to Project ROSE, Jones was ineligible for the program because she already had participated in the same Catholic diversion program, where she was asked to leave after voicing her personal views on sex work.

“I took the diversion program, and it was like the worst experience ever," Jones said last year. "It was humiliating. They treat you as like just a thing. Like [because] you’re a prostitute, this is what’s wrong with you. This is what you need to be doing. And like for me, I'm proud to be a sex worker. I’m not on drugs. I’m not like one of these crazy people. I just needed to make money for school."
posted by zombieflanders at 6:43 AM on April 16 [10 favorites]


Which, mind you, doesn't mean that he's right.

I never said that either. I only said that it's probably not an easy answer, and that "zomg this sounds unfair and Vice said it's illegal!" isn't much of a hook to hang one's hat.
posted by jpe at 6:43 AM on April 16


Here's another article on this.

Why the fuck aren't they sweeping up the johns and subjecting them to humiliation and brainwashing?

There have been decisions in state courts upholding the right of people on probation to refuse AA on the basis that it has religious undertones.
posted by mareli at 6:43 AM on April 16 [25 favorites]


I'm all for finding ways to help sex workers out of their situation if they do not want to be in it. I have mixed thoughts on prostitution, most certainly as it currently exists. But there's a difference between having the freedom to get into a program without worrying about your safety and the legality of your current situation, and being forced into it and if you don't comply, to go to jail.
posted by symbioid at 6:44 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


1. Is the program unconstitutionally religious? That's why AA is relevant here. If AA isn't impermissibly religious, neither is this based on the facts we have from the Vice article.

AA is not a single program. Over my decade-plus of sobriety (largely due to AA), my faith has ranged from indifferently agnostic to actively anti-religion, and I've never had much difficulty finding a group that -- despite the religious trappings of the program as a whole -- was populated by people who similarly rolled their eyes at the Higher Power stuff.
posted by Etrigan at 6:45 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


Not practicing criminal law, so pretrial diversion is something I'm unfamiliar with. Anyone interested in the case law can look here (pdf warning). jpe is not coming out of left field with his comments. Which, mind you, doesn't mean that he's right.

Thank you for the PDF, but from the very first sentence of the introduction:

The concept of pretrial diversion, developed during the 1960s, is that certain individuals
coming into the criminal justice system upon arrest can be dealt with apart from traditional
prosecution


Note that funny phrase "upon arrest". Because the article assumes that these cases are taking place in the US, it always refers to defendants who have been, you know, arrested, and who are actually afterwards interacting with a court.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:45 AM on April 16 [9 favorites]


Exactly Sticherbeast it sounds like this is profiling and then the threat of arrest if they don't attend these programs, not getting busted in solicitation sting and then being offered an non-criminal alternative.

While I find a lot about the sex industry to be very problematic I'm not sure that being pulled "walking while looking like a prostitute" is a good solution, it just seems like it's another form of profiling that can be abused by law enforcement.
posted by vuron at 6:49 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


As pointed out in the article I linked above, they're targeting women, especially women of color and trans women.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:50 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


leotrotsky, unless those cases are about replacing due process with a no-defense-attorneys-allowed, all-but-in-name trial in a church, then likening this to other "diversion" programs is out of left field.

While I do, in fact, think mandated AA is unconstitutional*, the situation isn't relevant. Those are diverson programs you can accept or reject. If a drunk driver refuses, demands counsel and wants to go down swinging, they can. They are not brought to a church and only allowed to speak to prosecutors.

*I also think car searches without a warrant are unconstitutional, so it's not like the Court would care so much about my hypothetical jurisprudence.
posted by spaltavian at 6:50 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


[Comment removed. This is not my favorite title in the history of all titles. I assumed it was a Bible reference. If you feel strongly you are welcome to take it to MetaTalk. Do not continue this line of metadiscussion here. Thank you.]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:54 AM on April 16


zombieflanders, it would be nice if that 30% rate was higher.

What's the effectiveness percentage (maybe number rehabilitated per dollar spent?) for programs that just go out and talk to people and provide counseling without getting the police involved? Any specific examples? I'm sure between us all we can probably get in touch with the people who run the program and point them to a more effective model.
posted by michaelh at 6:58 AM on April 16


There are all sorts of stupid and cruel things with this, but the idea of offering alternative rehabilitation to going into court is good - you avoid a record and additional costs.

How it is implemented however is just horrible, but it goes back to the idea that sex work is a crime, and that being a sex worker is criminal. You're only a burglar when you're stealing something, but once you sell sex, for many people, that's it and you're always a sex worker/criminal. The line "The main victims are trans women of colour like Monica, who are seen as sex workers even if they're buying milk." is great.

And yet if you buy sex, that's a transaction and you go right back to being Fully Human and Moral. Oh what I would give to somehow mark every man and woman who has bought sex for one day. The numbers would be staggering.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:58 AM on April 16 [9 favorites]


I understand the logic behind arresting the buyers, (not saying it's effective or a good policy or not) but I don't understand arresting the sellers. The idea tends to be rooted in the idea that a woman is "exploiting herself" which doesn't make any sense to me as a punitive issue. If she's the one being harmed, shouldn't you want to support her not harm her more and punish her... to achieve... what exactly? I don't think that survival sex should be seen as anything other than abuse... and I don't think abused people should be punished for needing food/shelter/living supplies and doing what others are requiring for that exchange. I also think anyone interested in ensuring no one feels trapped in exploitative labor should be working pretty hard to increase minimum wages, ensure employees have flexibles schedules, part time options, and living wages that allow them to meet family and caregiving duties they have as well as earn enough to live and provide for themselves and their children, free drug treatment, free disability services and an expansion of disability/skill building services to anyone struggling with work for any reason whether labelled "disabled" or not. They should also be supporting housing first initiatives to house anyone that is homeless and make sure they have access to food. That's how you lower the existence of survival sex. I think in terms of legality I really don't think it should be legal to say, offer a tenant the option of giving sex for housing if they are short on rent, these kinds of things are sexual abuse and I'm not sure if making a completely legal commercial prostitution industry is a good thing but really either way, all those resources need to be happening.

I do think courts can mandate drug treatment or mental health care, so... I wonder if this is another thing they could mandate "treatment" for? The church involvement with this is creepy as shit. The whole thing is creepy as shit and clearly does not have the interests of people who have been involved in sex work in mind.

I have multiple family members who have been jailed for sex work and required to read bibles and "come to jesus" and the whole thing is a mess and reflects a complete disrespect of those who cope with homelessness, addiction, broken families, abuse, disability, trauma, poverty and the many other issues that can drive people who are being harmed by sex work toward it. If you're an ally make sure people have the resources they need better than the johns- without a bunch of creepy religious and moralizing strings attached. If you don't want to step that up, you don't really care, and at least leave people alone to survive on their own. I wouldn't call myself an ally of sex workers, I would favor policies that protect the vulnerable over policies that benefit those who want legal sex work and are choosing it freely for fun over other options.
posted by xarnop at 7:03 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


This shouldn't need to be said, but this really is sexist, anti-woman program. It's not an honest disagreement on law enforcement or any real "diversion" program. A large portion of conservatives really do think women are inferior, and they hate the "wrong" kind of woman.

I'm not going to pretend there's an honest "other side" to the debate on the sort of criminalization we see here, or the pay gap, or "Welfare queens" or abortion. Any reasonable other side of these topics are largely theoretical, as they do not at all represent the real-world political application of those policies.

If reasonable conservatives don't like this, they should probably try to reassert control over half the Americal political sphere, rather than shrug their shoulders at the ascendant insansity because they want their marginal tax rate to be 36% instead of 39%.

The title of this thread makes sense, because that's exactly what this stuff is about.
posted by spaltavian at 7:03 AM on April 16 [19 favorites]


Bouncing off of vuron's point, even aside from mere profiling, even if the police do have sufficient grounds to make an arrest, you still have rights when you are arrested. Part of the whole point of due process is the idea that the government can't simply waive your rights because it would be inconvenient for them. Yes, properly booking a sweep full of people and properly conducting pretrial hearings would take some degree of effort. There is no "but it's haaaard" exception for due process.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:05 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


I'm wondering about the legality of offering people who have been detained - not arrested - the opportunity to enter a diversion program which will presumably divert them from a crime they have not been formally arrested for, let alone been tried and found guilty of. Can anyone answer that?

(Especially given that it seems like previous actual legal convictions make one ineligible for diversion programs like this one.)
posted by rtha at 7:11 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


urbanwhaleshark: "Project ROSE is a Phoenix city programme that arrests sex workers in the name of saving them. In five two-day stings, more than 100 police officers targeted alleged sex workers on the street and online. They brought them in handcuffs to the Bethany Bible Church."

So the Phoenix police are implementing the plot of Black Snake Moan as a law enforcement strategy? They're going to need to install a lot of radiators in that church.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:13 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


I'm also more than a little disturbed by the quotes from the professor in charge which seem to indicate that prostitution is a moral stain that simply can't be removed and that the sex workers are somehow irreversibly contaminated. It doesn't seem like a very compassionate way of addressing the very real problems facing sex workers.

I also really dislike the idea that only sex workers that don't have prior convictions would be eligible for a volunteer program because it seems to suggest that at a certain point a recidivist sex worker simply isn't worth "saving" and that incarceration is the only alternative. This seems to be emphasizing the contamination theory of sex work.
posted by vuron at 7:13 AM on April 16 [14 favorites]


This seems to be emphasizing the contamination theory of sex work.

This sentence for me gelled what is going on with the program. What a backwards and wrong approach, compared to offering help to those who want it and taking steps to make safer the lives of the people who for whatever reason want or need to continue doing sex work -- which does not involve profiling and arresting them, much less a religious program.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:16 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


The whole practice of sentencing people to church time is extremely offensive and should not be legal. DUI's, go to church. Prostitution, go to church. It's screwed up.
posted by malrimple at 7:37 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


This seems like a, I hate to use the word logical given how messed up everything is, but an outgrowth of the idea of women are used up after they have sex for the first time. That their worth, both exterior and interior, is centered in the vagina. The same attitude that is present in abstinence education and other such programs. I am not saying that something as horrific as Project ROSE will always be a direct response to abstinence education (if it were, it would be easier to fight, I think), but that they seem to share the same philosophical foundations. This is the warped mirror version of a diversion program, the thought that because diversion programs seem to work but do not punish that we need to create one of our own.
posted by Hactar at 7:52 AM on April 16


Even agreeing to a diversion program is (in my state at least) something that happens upon arraignment and before a judge. You still have the right to consult with an attorney before agreeing to a diversion program. And yes, there is some case law about AA being a religious program and mandated attendance in AA being a violation of 1st Amendment rights (one example is Kerr, 95 F.3d at 480; Warner v. Orange County Probation Dept., 115 F.3d. 1068 (2nd Cir. 1997), which applies to prisoners but which has reasoning applicable to this situation too).
posted by 1adam12 at 7:53 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


The whole practice of sentencing people to church time is extremely offensive and should not be legal. DUI's, go to church. Prostitution, go to church. It's screwed up.

I wonder how many of the program's supporters would feel about a program that allowed armed men to sweep people off the streets and detain them indefinitely in a mosque for re-education.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:08 AM on April 16 [25 favorites]


rtha, what the Vice article describes has at least two major issues. One, the government cannot merely decide by fiat what is or is not an arrest, as opposed to a more limited detainment. That's a fundamental part of the why we have heightened requirements for an arrest in the first place. Two, the program in question appears to require a guilty plea, as a "stick" to compel subjects to finish the program. This would appear to be compelled self-incrimination with no right to counsel.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:13 AM on April 16 [17 favorites]


And yes, there is some case law about AA being a religious program and mandated attendance in AA being a violation of 1st Amendment rights

But it is routinely ignored, isn't it?
posted by thelonius at 8:15 AM on April 16


i am surprised in a not-good way to see people in this thread defending the constitutionality of this program. miranda rights, including the right to counsel, attach at "custodial interrogation". if you're in handcuffs, you're in custody whether they call it an arrest or not. taking them to a church represents a second unconstitutional overlay.
posted by bruce at 8:40 AM on April 16 [15 favorites]


I'd think any mandated AA attendance that didn't allow people to go to a secular abstinence program instead (like lifering.org) would be unconstitutional.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:43 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Y'all gonna wrassle now, and the winna gonna go free.
posted by No Robots at 8:44 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


But it is routinely ignored, isn't it?

Nope. It has not been ignored. Kerr v. Ferry, Warner v. Orange County Department of Probation, and Inouye v. Kemna have all found that mandating 12 steps is a violation of the free exercise clause.

Treatment can be mandated but cannot be mandated to a specific program that has a spirtiual component. It's up to the person being treated to choose a program and for the court to agree. Anything else appears to be unconstitutional.

So I'm not sure what the argument here is? Mandating 12 steps is deemed unconstitutional in three circuits of which one Arizona is a part of. If people are ignoring that when making parole conditions then it needs to be rectified not used as an excuse to mix religion and due process.
posted by Talez at 9:22 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


I'd think any mandated AA attendance that didn't allow people to go to a secular abstinence program instead (like lifering.org) would be unconstitutional.

Yes, an acquaintance of mine had to attend court ordered alcoholic counseling or support group of which AA was one of the approved options. There were other secular groups, as well as groups from non-Christian religions on the list. I've never heard of AA specifically being mandated around here - interesting.

This story is so weird. On the one hand, it seems like a good idea. Give people who may not have a lot of options, the option of some help instead of just putting them in jail. But the people they are targeting, they way they are rounding them up, and the counseling they are receiving is all so messed up. I would have expected the counseling to be actual psych counseling for the women that wanted it or career/job training/college counseling for the women who wanted those options. Meeting in the church seems to be a bit of a red herring, though; there seems to be Catholic Charities also involved, which wouldn't be the same church.
posted by bluefly at 9:23 AM on April 16


WTF, this is something I would expect to see in a country run by conniving, self-serving religious zealots, not a country like the U-- oh.
posted by Mooseli at 9:41 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Every time Jesus saw religious authorities passing judgment on prostitutes he sided with the prostitutes. Unlawfully detaining these women in a church is a religious obscenity in addition to being an injustice and a crime.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:04 AM on April 16 [36 favorites]


They were detained on probable cause of prostitution. They were then given the choice of arrest or pretrial diversion. Like I said, that may be lousy policy but I don't see why that would be unconstitutional, and I'm not inclined to give much benefit of the doubt on constitutional analysis to Vice.

Granted, not everybody is a constitutional law expert, but this is so goddamn depressing that these very basic rights are not completely obvious. The part about being given a choice of whether to be arrested? That's the bad part. That is not normal, not appropriate, and should be obvious to everyone. It is up to the judicial system, not an arresting officer, to make determinations as to someone's guilt in committing a particular crime, and to further determine what actions apply. As mentioned upthread, the question as to whether someone is under arrest or not is black and white. If they are under arrest, the next stop is not a church to talk about their transgressions, for fuck's sake. It is ridiculous this needs to be clarified due to the complete lack of civic engagement and innate understanding of these human rights.
posted by odinsdream at 10:10 AM on April 16 [12 favorites]


I would not trust a Christian organization to help any woman anywhere empowering herself with her sexuality. I'm not saying there aren't specific christians who get women's empowerment but really religious organizations in general, particularly christian's, tend to demonstrate total failure to effectively deal with this issue.

If we had to choose a "religious" organization I would trust the Church of Satan to do this better than the Christians. (I find the Church of Satan ridiculous but their ethical system is something a lot of Christians could probably learn a few things from.)

But mainly, seriously, there are tons of secular organizations working on women's empowerment that could use funds and referrals from those in government care/penal system-- and the fact that the gov is choosing a CHURCH that is still currently teaming with misogyny and controlling shame based sexual teachings is definitely in opposition to our countries supposed values. It's so fucked up.

If Christians are so good at sexual empowerment maybe they could start with saving their own members (and children of their members forced into it) from the sexual oppression and harmful teachings of many Christian churches and the christian churches harmful role in opposition of sex and relationship education and empowerment in schools, and access to birth control. Get a bit more concerned with that maybe first.
posted by xarnop at 10:13 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


Project Rose is one of those names that means the opposite of what it says, like the Patriot Act, right?
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:17 AM on April 16


Project Rose is one of those names that means the opposite of what it says, like the Patriot Act, right?

It's even uglier when you consider the term "flower" to refer to a woman's virginity.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:38 AM on April 16


Not to mention "stemming the rose."
posted by No Robots at 10:39 AM on April 16


If we had to choose a "religious" organization I would trust the Church of Satan to do this better than the Christians

If we're gonna go all old-time religion here, then Aphrodite or Astarte really should be the supernatural contact of choice.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:44 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Welcome to Arizona
Get Thee To A Nunnery
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:48 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Anyone else find it odd that Project ROSE is very close to Dominique Roe-Sepowitz's name?
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 11:07 AM on April 16


The rose is also associated with the Virgin of Montserrat, a statue of Mary and Jesus in a monastery that sits on the former site of a temple to Venus.
posted by kewb at 11:16 AM on April 16


First, I would just like to say that I am SO FREAKING GLAD to have escaped Phoenix, Arizona having only spent 10 years there. It could have been a lot worse.

Secondly, I am ambivalent about prostitution. If you are an adult person, with agency, who thinks that sex work is for you, bless you and stay safe. If you are exploited in sex work, I'd like to think that law enforcement is helping you get out of the situation. It is not a black and white distinction and it's hard to say when your agency stopped and exploitation began (if it ever did.) I think legalizing and regulating sex work would go a LONG way towards helping exploited people get out of it. Since they wouldn't have to admit to breaking the law to seek help.

No matter how you feel about prostitution though, this program is a travesty. I'm appalled that this nonsense is compelled and carried out in a church.

Perhaps the ACLU can step in and bring a case to stop this, I'd happily give money to help that endeavor.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:41 PM on April 16 [6 favorites]


Good thing they didn't arrest the Johns too, or they woudn't have a police force left.
posted by markkraft at 1:20 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


That's terrible. As someone who works with an actual diversion program, I am appalled to see the idea twisted in this way.
posted by mlle valentine at 1:27 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


bruce: "miranda rights, including the right to counsel, attach at "custodial interrogation"."

That is what case law would suggest, but in practice, the situation is not so clear cut.
posted by wierdo at 1:31 PM on April 16


I'm pretty sure "unconstitutional" is the word we use to describe the situation where police department practice differs from what the courts have said the Constitution requires.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:36 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


What's interesting to me is that the same people who argue laws which try to regulate Wall Street are signs of fascism are totally on board with actual fascism, as represented by Project Rose and similar misogynistic bullshit.

I guarantee you that your average Wall Street trader has cost society more and done more permanent, life-fucking damage to "the public" than even the most prolific sex worker (which presumes that sex workers inflict any damage at all, which I'm not buying as a premise).
posted by maxwelton at 6:48 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


What kills me about initiatives like is that, while while they're getting all this funding to hold women in handcuffs and tell them that sex work is worthless, organizations that provide vital services for sex workers are grossly underfunded and stigmatized.

I briefly worked for an organization similar to the one rtha linked way upthread. They did important policy work, fighting a new local police policy which treated possession of condoms as de facto evidence of sex work. They ran some support groups. Did street outreach with safe sex supplies in hard-to-reach places.

And these days I'm not sure they exist anymore. Partly that's due to dysfunctional organizational culture, but it's also because the funding for groups that do that sort of harm reduction work is so scarce these days. My personal pet theory is that the lack of funding, the personal dysfunction, and stigma are more intertwined than most people give them credit for. First nobody wants to fund organizations that are seen as 'condoning sex work' (ie treating sex workers as autonomous human beings), so then the organizations are underfunded, the resulting lack of resources stresses out workers, the more stressed out folks get the worse they treat each other. Sex workers miss out on vital services, and folks working in harm reduction burn ou at astonishing rates, but hey, at least the politicians can say they weren't encouraging prostitution!

Meanwhile, churches that fund things like Project ROSE can get all the church funding they want, not to me took state support. Bastards.
posted by ActionPopulated at 7:36 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


Bulgaroktonos, what's the word for the situation where routine police department practice differs from what the appellate courts have said the Constitution requires but lower courts routinely refuse to sanction them in any but the most egregious circumstances?
posted by wierdo at 10:06 AM on April 17


"Depressing reality". This is why it's important for legal nonprofits (and others) to force local governments to obey the law. For so long as the Reeve Alvin Valkenheisers of the world would want to ignore the Constitution and its related, binding case law, there must also be armies of obnoxious lawyers (and others) to fight them.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:37 AM on April 17


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