Author’s Note: Thank you SWOP Behind Bars (SBB) for your support of my 2003 senior study discussion on feminism, consensual sex work, forced prostitution during armed conflict and human trafficking. This segment is part of a larger body of work privately archived with Goddard College.read more
The data that is collected from this research will be used to help draft policy recommendation that promotes the health and safety of US sex workers by sex worker rights-led organizations. It will also help identify what barriers sex workers face in accessing services, protecting their sexual health and reporting violence.read more
It is “Re/Entry Awareness Month”! Did you know prostitution convictions cannot be expunged in Pennsylvania? At a time when most all other non-violent crimes are being erased from public record, prostitutes are forced into LEAD, Rescue Diversion, must accept a permanent sex crime conviction on their record.read more
“At SWOP Behind Bars (SBB), along with COYOTEri and ESPU-Philly, we know these are not easy situations to understand and to determine the right and wrong of — “, offers M. Dante, who believes: “Protecting our youth from punitive abuse is as essential as protecting them from predators.”read more
SWOP Behind Bars awarded three scholarships to Blackstone Career Institute's Paralegal Certificate Program on December 17, 2016 in honor of International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. These scholarships were awarded to Anissa, Paul and Sarah, who are...read more
Ten Things You Can Do To Support Incarcerated Sex Workers Add Someone to our Newsletter! If you know someone who is in prison we can send a newsletter to, there is a form on the FRONT PAGE of the www.swopbehindbars.org website that makes it easy for ANYONE to add the...read more
Post by Amber Batts I was arrested July 9, 2014 for sex trafficking. I’m an Alaskan, born and raised in Juneau, Alaska, moving to Anchorage in 1998. I was raised with an independent streak that is common among many Alaskans: forge a way, persevere, and even when no...read more
On March 4th at approximately 6:00 am, I found myself being summoned from a holding cell in the Lake County Jail, in Waukegan, Illinois, to be transported back to Tarrant County, Texas, for six days in a transport van across the country. I’m a real estate attorney...read more
The study of the human brain has made great progress is recent years. In 2015, for example, new discoveries were made in the link between the brain and the immune system, new details were revealed about how the brain changes as we age and new insights were gained into...read more
Gigi Thomas, MSW, is a leading human rights advocate and a transgender woman of color who has worked for more than 15 years in the support of people in need in the DC area. She has never hesitated to provide outreach, client advocacy and harm reduction services to...read more
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.