Justice practitioners are increasingly recognizing that prostitution is often a form of human trafficking. In response, judges, courts, and other critical stakeholders are developing new approaches—rather than ﬁnes and jail time—to address the complex and overlapping problems, including violence, fear, trauma, abuse, and drug addiction, that keep many prostituted women, men, and children in “the life” of prostitution.
MoMA Exhibit Puts Spotlight on Women Arrested for Prostitution
DNAinfo, June 26 2012
Artwork made by clients of the Midtown Community Court is on display at the Museum of Modern Art.
Launched in late 2003, Brooklyn’s Youthful Offender Domestic Violence Court was the first court to address exclusively misdemeanor domestic violence cases among teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19. Despite statistics showing that women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of domestic violence and sexual assault nationwide, overwhelmed court systems have not been able to respond effectively to the problem. Defendants usually receive no targeted services aimed at preventing further abuse, and victims receive little in the way of services and counseling. In contrast, at the Youthful Offender Domestic Violence Court a dedicated judge and court room staff are equipped to address the unique needs that teen complainants bring to court. And by linking victims to a specialized services and offering a free 12-week program to teen batterers, the court attempts to engage teenagers and provide services designed to halt the violence.
Domestic violence victims face many barriers to safety and independence. Incomprehensible and complex court processes should not be among these barriers. Traditionally, victims had to face several judges in up to four different court rooms to have their criminal, family and matrimonial matters resolved. Integrated Domestic Violence Courts are “one family/one judge” courts that respond to the unique nature of domestic violence with one judge handling all criminal domestic violence cases and related family issues, such as custody, visitation, civil protection orders and matrimonial actions. Integrating criminal and civil response systems is the critical next step in improving victim safety and offender accountability.
Integrated Domestic Violence Courts hold offenders to a higher level of accountability by concentrating responsibility for defendant oversight in the hands of a single judge who can monitor compliance with court orders and program mandates. In addition, victims gain a greater voice in their cases and are better able to address critical family issues—such as safe visitation and timely support—that often impede safety and independence. Additionally, services to the victim are often on-site and coordinated.
There are over 40 integrated domestic violence courts operating in New York, including in Rensselaer, Westchester, Bronx, Rochester, Syracuse, Richmond, Queens, Tompkins, Erie, Franklin, and Suffolk counties. The Center has provided technical assistance in planning and implementing integrated domestic violence courts in New York, across the country and around the world. (Click here to learn more)
Launched in January of 2004, the Child and Adolescent Witness Support Program provides mental health support and referrals to children and adolescents exposed to violent crime in the Bronx. The participants in the program are young people, ages 3-15 years, who have been a witness to or victim of physical abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, or homicide. The Child and Adolescent Witness Support Program aims to promote the healthy development of children and adolescents by assisting them in overcoming the negative impact of their traumatic experiences, and by enhancing the criminal justice system’s ability to respond to their mental health needs. The program provides young crime victims with support, on-site trauma-focused therapy, and referrals to specialized mental health providers in their community.
The Brooklyn Felony Domestic Violence Court, which opened in June 1996, adjudicates all indicted domestic violence felonies in the borough of Brooklyn. A dedicated court team—judge, attorneys, victim advocates and a resource coordinator—ensures that defendants are carefully monitored, victims have access to comprehensive services and the judges have the information they need to make quick and effective decisions.