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Monday, December 14, 2009

Recent Sex Trafficking Case Comes to the Forefront of the Judicial System

From Coord. of Court Ops. Elizabeth Swan





On December 4th, a historic victory was won in the battle against human sex trafficking. After a 2 week trial, New York State, under the 2007 sex trafficking statute, convicted 32 year old David Brown of Queens on charges of second-degree kidnapping, sex trafficking, third-degree promotion of prostitution, first degree unlawful imprisonment, and third-degree assault. The verdict was brought down by Queens Supreme Court Justice Michael Aloise, and Mr. Brown is scheduled to be sentenced on January 25th. He faces up to 25 years in prison.

Bronx Community Solutions was very pleased to hear about these precedent setting implications. Bronx Community Solutions is very sensitive to the signs of sex trafficking, but we have not yet identified any cases through our comprehensive screening process. The population that we often deal with tends to yield individuals who were raised in and are currently living in the Bronx. Although we have yet to identify any of our own cases as such, we're well aware that sex trafficking is a common thing in and around the Bronx.

Overall, Bronx Community Solutions has continued to strengthen our efforts as far as working with prostitution arrests are concerned. Since 2007, Bronx Community Solutions’ Prostitution Initiative has helped to make a significant impact by enhancing the court's resources and by offering Judges meaningful prostitution sentencing alternatives in place of short term jail sentences. Prior to the involvement of Bronx Community Solutions, 44 percent of prostitution offenders were sentenced to short term jail with no form of meaningful engagement of services. With our involvement, it's a number we hope will decrease. We continue to actively engage offenders arrested for prostitution through a four pronged collaborative approach: Street Outreach with the 41st, 47th, 48th and 52nd precincts, Expanded Social Service Programs, Court Screening and Judicial Monitoring.

Additionally, Bronx Community Solutions is focused on data analysis to help identify areas of need in order to expand our outreach and services in 2010. Between 2007 and 2008, we looked at the total number of prostitution arrests in the Bronx and disposition comparisons. One major thing we identified was the need for an in-house Bronx Community Solutions prostitution program. The research showed that 52% of Bronx Community Solutions' prostitution sentences were social service mandates. This percentage reinforces the need for Bronx Community Solutions to house a specific social service track designed for prostitution offenders. As a first step toward that eventual goal, Bronx Community Solutions recently launched its first gender specific social service class: Women’s Education and Awareness. This group is designed to challenge women of all ages to explore their assumptions regarding their role in society, through critical thinking activities and group discussion.

Bronx Community Solutions continues to work in collaboration with our partners to do our part in addressing the issue of prostitution. We are looking forward to new challenges in 2010, and continue to appreciate the tireless efforts of our program partners such as the Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS ) and the Midtown Community Court.

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