MINEOLA, N.Y. – The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office has partnered with The Safe Center LI and Sanctuary for Families, two leading organizations dedicated to the fight against human trafficking, to create a program designed to educate defendants charged with prostitution-related offenses how demand fuels the sex trade and impacts human trafficking overall.
The program, called RESET: The Real Effects of Sale, Exploitation, and Trafficking Program, consists of a two-hour class led by The Safe Center and in partnership with the District Attorney’s Office. The program educates defendants about the impact of demand on human trafficking,the correlation between child sexual abuse and prostitution, the background of women who are forced into prostitution, and the role the john plays in the victimization of prostitutes.
RESET Program participants who have been charged with patronizing a prostitute (an A misdemeanor), and those who have recently pleaded guilty to that charge, will be afforded the opportunity to plead to the lesser charge of Disorderly Conduct (a non-criminal violation) with a conditional discharge upon completion of the program and 35 hours community service. The program is open to first-time offenders, and the cost of the program will be paid by defendants.
Judge Judy Kluger, the Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families and the former judge who was appointed by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman to the position of Chief of Policy and Planning for New York State’s Unified Court System, said: “We are appreciative of the efforts of District Attorney Kathleen Rice in helping to raise the awareness of the impact of demand in human trafficking. Human trafficking is fueled by the demand for commercial sex from adults and children. The answer is a comprehensive response that protects victims and holds sex buyers and traffickers responsible. DA Rice is setting an example for effective ways to deal with the impact of human trafficking in our communities and we look forward to working together with the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office to combat the demand for commercial sex that fuels sex trafficking.”
Cynthia Scott, Executive Director of The Safe Center LI, said: “We are thrilled to be part of this initiative. Our direct work with trafficking victims provides us with the opportunity to help some of the most vulnerable people in Nassau County. Most of the women in our trafficking program have long standing trauma histories and many were brought into the “life” when they were young adolescents. Our work with the RESET Program will allow us to begin to reframe this issue in the community and help people – especially johns – understand this is not a victimless crime and by participating in prostitution they are helping to revictimize these women.”
DA Kathleen Rice said: “We've partnered with human trafficking and public health experts with the goal of fighting human trafficking by cutting the demand for commercial sex. Prostitution is not a victimless crime and johns play an integral role in an industry full of victimization and violence. This program is another step in an ongoing and multipronged strategy of aggressive enforcement, public awareness, and innovative defendant education. We won't be backing down from making cases that we know will save lives."