Sex workers are hub of Florida drug model

Sex workers are hub of Florida drug model

A Florida program authorized only last year that provides a continuum of therapy for sex workers convicted of drug offenses has been established in several metropolitan areas.

The state enacted an alternative sentencing law in 2002 that allows police to charge anyone arrested for prostitution after two or more prior convictions with a felony.

Once charged, the person is offered admission to a pretrial intervention program or drug treatment program.

The idea behind the law is to get prostitutes off street corners by tackling the underlying reasons that drive them there in the first place. Repeat offenders who reject treatment programs face tougher sentences.

Nonprofits working with state grants offer drug treatment as part of a package that also features psychological counseling, group therapy and job placement.

Programs have already been established in several areas including Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando and Tampa.

Neither jail sentences nor drug rehabilitation has worked effectively in the past because the women for economic reasons return to the streets.

By adding the elements of psychological counseling and job training and placement, the Florida program is expected to provide the women an opportunity to enough economic stability to avoid returning to their previous practices.

Florida patterned the law after the SAGE program that the San Francisco Police Department has operated for years.

Copyright Washington Crime News Service May 19, 2003

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved