In 2009, the City of Portland started a program to combat prostitution, which had been increasing rapidly since drug and prostitution free zones were allowed to expire in 2007. The program, called New Options for Women, is managed by LifeWorks Northwest.
LifeWorks Northwest set out to accomplish eight goals, including helping their clients secure safe housing, avoid arrest, and complete at least two-thirds of substance abuse and mental health treatment, where necessary. But according to a report (pdf) obtained by the Willamette Week via a public records request, the only goals the program was able to meet were getting their clients to attend at least two treatment meetings, maintaining their sobriety, and helping them formulate a safety plan. One of the tricky things about the program is its close connection to law enforcement, which makes some women hesitant to be a part of it, even when it’s mandated as part of their probation.
How closely should prostitution abatement programs work with law enforcement? Do you have any experience as a sex worker? What do you think should be done about prostitution in Oregon?
- Tanya (a pseudonym): Former prostitute and a graduate of the New Options for Women program
- Beth Glisczinski: Director of addiction services at LifeWorks Northwest
- Jeff Ruppel: Portland Police officer and one of four officers on the prostitution coordination team