Sex Workers’ statement on the Centre For Women’s Justice challenge to convictions for street sex work

We seek to remove the barriers to leaving the sex industry imposed by criminal law. Women selling sex onstreet may be arrested for loitering or soliciting[iii]; indoors, any way of working with or for another person creates a risk of prosecution[iv]. Clients are entirely criminalised onstreet and extensively indoors[v]. This means that almost anyone who encounters victims of trafficking in the sex industry has reason to fear arrest if they contact the authorities to report concerns.
This complex and confusing mess of legislation endangers everyone in the sex industry. Only complete decriminalisation offers the wholesale reform necessary to create a legal framework that offers us the same human rights accorded to others.[vi]

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Why I Support ESPLERP v Gascon

DECRIM Not Diversion: “It is unacceptable for prosecutors to coerce defendants into giving up their rights to due process and their day in court by threatening to go after them with draconian charges if they don’t accept plea bargains. The State should establish strong penalties for such misconduct to deter prosecutors from abusing their power in this manner.” Maxine Doogan ESPLERP Policy Agenda

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Criminal Justice Reform: Cash Bail ii

Criminal justice reform efforts across the nation are currently testing risk assessment algorithms as an alternative to the old cash bail system which has come to be considered a conflict to the protections offered by the sixth and eighth amendments of the constitution

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2017 Paralegal Scholarships

SWOP Behind Bars awarded three scholarships to Blackstone Career Institute’s Paralegal Certificate Program on December 17, 2017 in honor of International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.   Blackstone’s accredited Paralegal Certificate Program enables students to learn about the law and the paralegal field by studying at their own pace while in their facility. I

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Get In The Know: Head To The Polls!

If Sex Workers don’t want judges in office who define rape at gun point as “theft of services” then we need to know the candidates, the issues, and we need to vote. For prostitutes this can be harder than it sounds though we have to learn how to be more politically aware and involved, and we can’t be afraid to speak from our heart and experience. It is up to us to stop being “vulnerable and marginalized population”. M. Dante SBB / ESPU-PHILLY

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NACDL’s Webcast: HIV Criminalization Webinar

U=U is Undetectable = Untransmittable: M Dante sat in on the National Association Of Criminal Defense Attorneys (NACDL) Criminalization Webinar to see how this topic addresses and affects sex workers, and how the Positive Justice Project helps.


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In Philly: The Prison in Twelve Landscapes

The Prison in Twelve Landscapes is a new film about the hidden geographies of the contemporary prison-industrial complex by Brett Story. The screening will be followed by a discussion with the director, Reentry Think Tank fellow Josh Glenn and scholar Toorjo (TJ) Ghose.

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WHAT CAN THE SPACE SHUTTLE TEACH US ABOUT MAKING A BREAK FROM OUR PAST?

An excerpt from the book Illegal to Legal: Business Success for the (Formerly) Incarcerated © 2014 by RL Pelshaw, used with permission.

Your strengths are found in your past, both good and bad. I’m not here to beat you up over what you did, or might even be doing now. I’m here to give you a practical path that you can follow to help you use your past to propel you to a new future, your destiny, a future where you have left your past behind you.

Take a moment and think about the Space Shuttle. Obviously, the Shuttle was not designed to stay on earth. It fulfills its destiny in space, not on the launch pad. Blasting off is not a passive event. It’s violent, explosive, and a life-or-death battle to reach the stars. What is the biggest obstacle the Shuttle must overcome to get into space? It’s not gravity but the weight of the fuel. The fuel weighs more than nineteen times what the Shuttle weighs. It’s ironic because the Shuttle needs the fuel to get into orbit, but the fuel is so heavy it becomes the biggest obstacle the Shuttle must overcome to blast into space. Breaking through the atmosphere into its destiny is the most difficult thing the Shuttle will ever do. I promised to show you how to use your past to propel you to your destiny. Pretend you are the Space Shuttle. You’re designed and destined to be high above where you are now, but you’re stuck on earth. You’re on the launch pad, ready for something to get you moving. You are yearning for something better, knowing you don’t belong where you are now. You are unhappy that you can’t get to where you want to be but you don’t know how to reach the stars. As the Shuttle you have to use your fuel to blast off, but what is that fuel? Your past, your life experience, is like the fuel in the Space Shuttle. If the fuel is properly used it can propel you into orbit, your destiny. If the fuel is improperly used it becomes dangerous, explosive, and can destroy the Shuttle. If the fuel is unused it weighs you down and keeps you stuck on the launch pad. Life on the launch pad is an unfilled life. On the launch pad you’re never going anywhere, never changing, never doing anything differently, never improving, and never learning. All you are doing is wasting away and decaying while you ignore your destiny above you. I was being crippled by the mental load of shame over the consequences of my mistakes, what I lost, and broken relationships. There was no easy way from that, and I think every incarcerated and formerly incarcerated citizen faces that. I asked for, and received God’s help, which I continually need to get past the shame and things that would weigh me down if I let them. Ultimately, I had to choose to get over myself.

You must decide if you want to let your past weigh you down, destroy you, or propel you to your destiny among the stars. What will you decide? Are you willing to do what it takes to make it legitimately, so you can reach your destiny, the life you were meant to live? Once the Shuttle blasts off it cannot return to Earth until its mission is complete. A return mid-launch would be catastrophic for the Shuttle.

History gives us another example of the commitment required for success. Spanish explorer Hernan Cortez burned his ships when he reached the New World in the 1500s. You must have that level of commitment if you wish to reach your goal. Returning to the past should not be an option at all, no matter how hard it is to launch or break through to your destiny. Just as the Space Shuttle cannot return to earth mid-launch, and there were no ships for Cortez’ men to return to Spain, there should be no chance of you ever returning to a life of crime. Close that door forever! This book will show you ways to start your own business so you don’t have to return to or continue crime to make a living.