More Information, Contact:
|April 22, 2004
Holland, Director of Communications
WORCESTER DISTRICT P.O.'S START PROGRAMS
TO HELP PROSTITUTES "GET OUT OF THE LIFE"
The Worcester District Court Probation
Department has launched a program, "Developing
Alternatives for Women Now (DAWN)," to empower
troubled female probationers, with offenses of prostitution
and related charges, to abandon this dangerous lifestyle.
Program participants met for the first time this month.
DAWN evolved from a series of educational conferences
sponsored by the Administrative Trial Court's Judicial Institute,
titled "Addressing Prostitution Effectively." Worcester District
Court Chief Probation Officer William P. Mattei encouraged
Probation Officer Maureen Chamberlain to start a program.
Chamberlain drew from the resources and expertise of local
social service agencies, businesses and criminal justice
agencies to create DAWN.
The eight-week program, open to 15 women, will
consist of 90-minute groups run twice a week. Worcester District
Court Probation Officers and representatives from the Worcester
YWCA Daybreak Program facilitate the groups and will focus
on addiction, domestic violence, physical and mental health,
self-esteem, self-determination and decision-making. Participants
will also have access to detoxification, substance abuse
counseling, mental health treatment, health care services,
and counseling for victims of violence.
Among the offenders eligible for referral to
the DAWN Program are women "with a current arrest for prostitution
or a similar charge; women with a current arrest for a drug-related
charge and a prior offense for prostitution and women who
disclose to their probation officer involvement in prostitution."
"I think everyone was struggling for an answer
to this problem. When the women were coming into the court,
they are often committed (sent to jail) or fined. Many were
going back on the street to make money to pay the fines," said
Chamberlain, who will run the program with Worcester District
Court Probation Officers Kerry Coakley and Dawnmarie Mahoney
who also helped to develop the program.
"It (prostitution) is a problem for the courts,
local businesses, and the entire community. There is a lot
of frustration," added Chamberlain. "We (probation) have
a pretty good knowledge base. We do not expect that this
will be the answer to everything. However, what we are hoping
to do is help create change."