The Rochelle Opportunity Scholarship

The Rochelle Opportunity Scholarship is granted to an incarcerated sex worker who has at least one year left to serve in prison. Applications are taken all year around and will be awarded on June 3rd and December 17th. The scholarship can be used to enroll in one semester at Adams State College in the field of the applicants choice. The scholarship program includes tuition, books and testing modules. Applicants must have their high school diploma or GED equivalency certificate. Applicants are asked to send their proof of high school diploma or GED certificate with their application or to let the scholarship committee know how to access it. Applicants must send two letters of reference to support their essay. Letters of reference can be from anyone, including prison officials, chaplains, cell mates, family members or friends on the outside or inside of prison. Please send application essay, GED or high school diploma information and letters of reference to:

SWOPUSA – Behind Bars
Attn: Scholarship Committee
340 S Lemon Ave
Walnut, CA 91789

Support the Rochelle Opportunity Scholarship by donating here! Your donation is 100% tax deductible!

Rochelle – also known as Marcia Powell, a woman considered mentally impaired by the court, was incarcerated for solicitation of oral sex and sentenced to over two years in prison. n 2009 after she was sentenced to more than two years of imprisonment for solicitation of prostitution, Marcia Powell was locked in a metal cage in the sun at an Arizona prison. Hours later she collapsed in the over 107 degree heat and by day’s end she was dead. Even though an internal investigation carried out by the Arizona Department of Corrections revealed that prison guards had denied her water and ridiculed her when she pleaded for help, no one was held accountable. The story of how Marcia came to be incarcerated and the circumstances of her death reveal the impact that inhumane prison conditions are having on a wide range communities of sex workers—including the homeless, young people, transgender people and immigrants—across the United States. The documentary NO HUMAN INVOLVED chronicles how a movement formed around this case, seeking justice in her name.     In 2009, sex workers from around the globe met gruesome deaths and endured unspeakable violence. Some died at the hands of a solitary perpetrator; others were victims of serial “prostitute killers.” While some of these horrific stories received international media attention, other cases received little more than a perfunctory investigation. Many cases remain unsolved, sometimes forever.

“Marcia was the victim of dual forms of injustice, as a sex worker and as a prisoner,” said Liz Coplen of SWOP. “The prohibition of prostitution results in selective prosecution that puts some of the most vulnerable in our society at the mercy of a system that robs them of their basic respect and dignity.” For decades efforts to curb sex work have not only failed to reduce incidences of prostitution, but they have corrupted our justice system resulting in selective enforcement, racial profiling and inhumane treatment of those who don’t have the financial resources to fight back.  Violence against sex workers is epidemic and rarely taken seriously. The criminalization of prostitution legitimizes this abuse so that sex workers are the targets of violent crime with little recourse. Incarceration is not a solution to the issues of poverty and security that some sex workers face. As the death of Marcia Powell in the custody of the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) shows, prison sentences can include the most extreme form of neglect and abuse. As a result of an internal investigation, 16 people were disciplined. A criminal investigation, ongoing at the Maricopa County Attorney’s office, will determine whether criminal charges should be filed in her death.


How Prison Killed Sex Worker Marcia Powell

Disciplinary action taken after inmate Marcia Powell dies from being put in outdoor cell in heat