Blair Hopkins, Deputy Director
SWOP Behind Bars
February 1, 2021
SEX WORKERS ASSIST WOMEN ARRESTED IN TRAFFICKING STINGS LEADING UP TO BIG GAME
Coalition Rescues Marginalized Sex Workers from Police
Tampa, FL: SWOP Behind Bars – in partnership with Woodhull Freedom Foundation, Metro Inclusive Health, LIPS Tampa and Big John’s Bail Bonds – has set up a bail and legal assistance fund for sex workers detained by “anti trafficking” stings around this year’s Big Game. Already 71 people have been arrested. Widely reported as anti trafficking initiatives, these arrests ruin lives, hurting victims and consensual sex workers alike.
This week, a small army of activists and community organizers will monitor areas where arrests trend upward in anticipation of the coming week’s sporting events.
SWOP Behind Bars’ Alex Andrews will direct a network of allies to bail out those arrested on prostitution charges. While many will be released on their own recognizance (ROR), repeat offenders can face up to one year in prison in the state of Florida. Sex worker advocates will show up for first appearance hearings to bond out those not granted ROR. Additional volunteers will meet people once they are released from jail to connect them with services.
Available services and referrals include:
Bail and court fine assistance
Legal fee assistance and access to pre-vetted legal representation
Housing, SNAP and other public assistance application guidance
HIV/HEP C testing courtesy of Metro Inclusive Health
“The consequences of criminalization are devastating,” says Andrews, “The public has been led to believe that increased resources for law enforcement efforts will go to ‘saving’ victims of sexual exploitation, when in fact arrests only hurt those they claim to help.”
For more information on how to support this nationwide community of sex workers, activists and organizers visit https://www.swopbehindbars.org/national-sex-worker-bond-fund/