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Prostitution Alternatives Round Table

 

SAGE in action in Springfield, including Leanna Majors (second left) and Community Organizer Rachel Ramirez (right)

Prostitution Alternatives Round Table (PART) advocates for initiatives that enable people to quit prostituting to survive. It proposes laws that no longer favor the typically male customer and trafficker over the woman or youth being prostituted. It proposes rehabilitative programs that divert women from jail or prison so that they can restore their lives and keep families intact.

Community Organizer Rachel Ramirez runs outreach at shelters for survivors and women ex-offenders, a group called Survivor Advocacy Group Empowered (SAGE). With survivors’ help, PART has shepherded significant state legislation, including the 2007 “First Offender Probation” law. PART led Springfield advocacy for End Demand Illinois, passing three bills in three years – the 2010 “Illinois Safe Children Act,” the 2011 “Justice for Victims of Sex Trafficking Crimes Act,” and 2012 legislation strengthening anti-trafficking laws (HB 5278). In 2013, our SAGE leaders led End Demand’s organizing to enact a new law (SB 1872) that, effective August 22, 2013, ended felony-level prostitution charges in Illinois. In 2014, SAGE leaders secured a state senate sponsor for an End Demand bill (Senate Bill 3558) that allocates fines and impound fees toward funding services for survivors.

PART worked with Cook County judges to create the WINGS felony prostitution court, a first in the Midwest. Opened in 2011, it offered restorative programs to women who completed two years’ probation with the court. When Illinois ended felony-level prostitution in mid-2013, PART worked with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office to plan a misdemeanor prostitution court that also offers specialized services. Opened in June 2015, the Chicago Prostitution and Trafficking Intervention Court is convened at Cook County’s  Domestic Violence Courthouse, 555 W. Harrison Street.

PART convenes a steering committee that meets quarterly with 13 agencies – advocates, academics, service providers, and law enforcement – that work with prostitution survivors and trafficked women. Its support includes project-specific grants (FYs10-14) given by the Sisters of Charity, BVM, as recommended by PART’s advocacy partner, Project IRENE.

For more information, contact Organizer Rachel Ramirez or Associate Policy Director Eithne McMenamin.