A City Coming Together
Project ANSWER stands for the Alternative Navigation of Sex Workers through Empirical Resources. This city-wide team consists of members representing IMPD, the FBI, the Attorney General’s office, the grant division of the Mayor’s Office, Community Court, and service providers including Outreach Inc., the Damien Center, Agape Alliance, and Kristy’s House Inc. It was created to identify and recommend a specific, holistic approach to the myriad needs of the marginalized population of sex workers in addition to simple arrest and prosecution.
The goal of Project ANSWER is to identify a judiciary interested in establishing a trial version of a specialized court through which all prostitution charges would flow. In addition, the needs of this population would be addressed, including specialized housing, mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, treatment of STDs, and providing trauma-informed care with the goal of transitioning women out of this lifestyle, measured by a decrease in the recidivism rate.
Healing a History of Trauma
Similar courts have been established in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois. Indiana would seek to take the best practices from similar programs and successfully implement a specialized court here. If successful, the program would become permanent and a similar model could be implemented in the juvenile court system.
Kristy’s House founder and Executive Director, Sarah Hurley, says, “Aside from working directly with clients, Project ANSWER is the best thing I’ve worked on professionally. The team we have represents multiple agencies and NGO’s and is a wonderful example of a collaborative effort to have a truly positive impact on the city of Indianapolis and in the lives of women and men impacted by this lifestyle.”
She went on to say, “Many people see a hard line between prostitution and trafficking, but when you look deeper, you begin to understand that line can be a very blurry one.” Many Kristy’s House clients who have engaged in prostitution were, in fact, trafficked as youths and all of them have a history of trauma and trouble in the home.
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