Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Behind Bars: Making Connections and Creating Networks

Jill McCracken | September 21 | 11:30 AM-12:30 PM | Room 3010A

The number of women who are incarcerated in US prisons has increased more than 800% over the past 20 years, and many women in the prison system have prostitution-related experience in their past. Although the prison population has exploded, the programs and services for women behind bars and re-entry opportunities for those soon released have remained spotty at best and non-existent at worst. This vulnerable population becomes even more at risk for falling victim to predatory management that can force them into exploitative situations, pushing them further into the margins. The stigma and shame that is already present for most women who have been in jail or prison is exacerbated by the lack of opportunities for employment and education upon release. This presentation outlines the work of the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Behind Bars and their creation of a positive network between incarcerated sex workers and the sex worker rights community through the publishing of a national monthly newsletter, donating books to prison libraries, providing substance abuse recovery and trauma-informed material for self-facilitated programs, creating a pen pal program to further develop interpersonal relationships that are positive, providing scholarships for women who are incarcerated, and increasing their resources so they can successfully re-enter society after release from prison. Through their letters and direct communication, the presenter shares the voices of people behind bars who are reaching out for resources and community and share how, by working together and sharing stories, people impact other’s lives and, together, create social justice.

Presentation Objectives:

·       Define the SWOP Behind Bars Program and what they have done in the community

·       Discuss how to create a positive network between incarcerated sex workers and the sex worker rights community

·       Share the stories of incarcerated sex workers

About the Presenter