“the one thing that they’re not allowed to have is a lawyer”

One of the quotes from her (video at 5:41) in your story was really shocking to me: “Having that many body parts in your body parts, having that many body fluids near you and doing things that are freaky and weird really messes up your ideas of what a relationship looks like, and intimacy.” Is she a hardline second-wave feminist or is she really conservative and Christian?

I would not describe her as conservative Christian. I would describe her as a liberal. Ironically, I would describe the police lieutenant as a liberal also, but he uses very similar language to that as well. I think second-wave, I didn’t ask her the question if she would consider herself second-wave but I think that’s probably pretty accurate. I too was really stunned by that line. That really showed to me that she wasn’t seeing the complexity of the lives of the women that were coming through here and wasn’t seeing the complexity. People from the local chapter of SWOP have tried to speak to her. It’s not like she doesn’t know there’s other views out there, but I think that she doesn’t see it that way.

And she’s not concerned about the treatment that sex workers have had at the hands of police there? There was a woman [Marcia Powell] who died in custody in Arizona. Being taken into police custody in Phoenix is frightening but especially so for a sex worker. It’s surprising to me that she would espouse this desire to aid people and yet not be aware of what a scary system that is.

I tried to get them to see the contradiction in the fact of them seeing them as simultaneously victims and criminals, but they’re unwilling, I think, to see those contradictions.

I think she doesn’t see an alternative. I think that she thinks that Project ROSE is the best alternative possible. What I tried to point out in the piece was that if the sort of funding and resources that Project ROSE are getting were put into something like SWOP, who are doing direct outreach without using arrests, that that would be a more functional alternative. But I think Dr. Dominique and these others involved in the program just don’t see an alternative outside of the criminal justice system and they think the only thing they can do is to work within the criminal justice system. The question of this idea where at the one hand they’re continually seeing all of these women—and it is 98% women who go through the program—all of these women as victims, but at the same time as criminals, I tried to get them to see the contradiction in the fact of them seeing them as simultaneously victims and criminals, but they’re unwilling, I think, to see those contradictions.

Read More | “Reporting on ROSE: A Journalist’s Work In Phoenix” | Susan Shepard with Jordan Flahrety | Tits and Sass