Women arrested in a Camden, N.J., anti-prostitution initiative are given a choice of facing the charges or enrolling in a rehab program and leave their street lives behind, reports the Phildelphia Inquirer. Prostitution, largely fueled by drug addiction, has long been a problem in Camden. Typically, women are arrested, issued a summons, and released almost immediately back to the streets. The sweep was the first in a bimonthly initiative among community groups, police, and the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office aimed at getting the women help.
Instead of taking the women to jail, officers bring them to Antioch Baptist Church, where nurses provide STD and pregnancy testing, and volunteers offer counseling as well as hugs and prayer. If as a woman has no outstanding warrants, it’s up to her whether to proceed to jail or agree to go to a shelter and then rehabilitation. Of the 10 women arrested yesterday, five agreed to enroll in rehab. While Philadelphia has Project Dawn Court, a prostitution intervention court for women with nonviolent records, Camden has no diversionary program, hence the importance of this initiative, collaborators said. For some women, the prospect of rehab is scarier than being fingerprinted and issued a summons.