Yale Global Health Justice Partnership (GHJP) released two complementary analyses on prostitution “diversion” programs (PDPs), one national in scope and the other focused specifically on New York City programing. The reports reveal that PDPs in the United States are radically varying, but share a common thread: across the board, PDPs operate contrary to their own claims of stopping the revolving door of criminalization and victimization of ostensibly “trafficked” or “exploited” people.
While PDPs position themselves as rehabilitative and compassionate alternatives to the criminal adjudication of prostitution offenses, initial findings presented in the reports suggest that, in reality, they are unable to fulfill their goals. Most do not offer sustained interventions capable of addressing the structural needs of sex workers, and all expand the coercive reach of penal institutions by enabling them to act as gatekeepers and managers of social services. Thus, the reports argue that PDPs often fail to divert people in the sex sector from the potential harms associated with criminal justice system involvement.