Nashville is trying to break the cycle of prostitutiton, NPR reports in a three-part series. More than 1,100 people were arrested in the city last year for prostitution and solicitation. Some of t hem go to a program called Magdalene that was founded in 1997 by Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest who grew up in Nashville and who had been abused as a child. Magdalene is a two-year private residential rehab center for women with criminal histories of prostitution and drug addiction.
Magdalene has graduated more than 150 women and has raised $12 million in private funds. It offers an intensified program of housing, counseling and training, based on a 12-step model. Women stay free for the two years they’re there. It is becoming a national model for others trying to help women trapped by prostitution. Therapy occurs in Magdalene’s six group homes, where the women live unsupervised. The women also make bath and body oils and candles at a workshop called Thistle Farms — products that Stevens says promote healing. Magdalene also helps run “john schools,” aimed at educating male clients who are arrested for hiring prostitutes about various aspects of prostitution. Only first-time offenders may enroll.