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ReEntry Support

$2,710 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 33 people in 2 months
   SWOP Behind Bars  a national chapter of the Sex Worker Outreach Project the is provides information and education for sex workers who are currently imprisoned in jails and prisons all over the United States.  During our first year, we were able to reach more than 1000 men, women and trans folks asking us more about sex worker rights at the intersection of mass incarceration.  We connected pen pals, created custom Amazon wish lists and donated books to prison libraries.   We helped folks get to where they needed to be on Greyhound and Uber.  We sent out Big Box Store gift cards so they could buy things like clothes and food, and we sent Welcome Home packages of basic hygiene items, composition books and stamped envelopes.  We operate the Community Support Line which allowed people to contact us directly for peer led support 24 hours a day.
   As 2017 approached, we determined that we needed to provide more than just information because there was a desperate need for resources.  Things like housing, education, transportation, communication, job training and legal support were desperately needed but way outside of our capacity.  We actively solicited partnerships to provide these crucial resources and were amazed at how our own sex worker rights community stepped up to make provisions and we were delighted to form alliances with other groups who were able to meet the desperate needs that many of our people who were being released experienced.  Late in 2017, we formed an advocacy committee and began helping our recently released clients connect to local resources within their own communities by providing recycled smart phones with 90 days of service.  We wrote letters of support for court dates, helped folks get their criminal charges vacated, and created a training course for Public Defenders.  We coached folks on writing resumes and helped them connect with employers who were willing to hire felons.  This completely shifted their ability to meet their own needs and access the things they needed easily and under their own power. 
   But we still thought we could do better.  As 2017 closed and 2018 opened, we discovered we could do MORE by keeping people OUT of prison and help them fight cases in court and even keep them from being arrested in the first place by launching a KNOW YOUR RIGHTS campaign and providing outreach cards in English and Spanish that gave the basic tips to follow when dealing with law enforcement.  Our new reentry reentry guide will be sent out to more than 1000 prisoners in April  and we really beleive this will have a positive impact on the ability of people to reconnect to their families, our community and join us in the fight for full decriminalization of sex work.
   We are now on the edge of following the example of the Pivot Legal Society to file a lawsuit in a southern state challenging the constitutionality of an unfair law that targets sex workers and holds them in jail for long periods of time with little access to legal representation and high bonds for misdemeanor charges.  We have more than 40 litigants who have been directly affected by these harmful laws - some of whom are STILL locked up without legal support or the ability to mount a defense.
  
BUT WE CAN'T DO IT WITHOUT YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT.

This fundraiser will allow us to continue to provide these much needed resources (gift cards, transportation, smart phones and hygiene items) to men, women and trans folks all over the United States and empower them to get past their past and move into the future.  We anticipate more than 200 of our currently incarcerated members to be released in 2018 and they need our help to help themselves.  Won't you be a part of the movement to support our incarcerated community?  We appreciate our allies who have brought us this far and its time to push further!  Lets make sure that our returning citizens are set up for success!

And as always - your donation is tax deductible!
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Dear Ally:
Since SESTA was passed by the senate, many of the sex worker advertising platforms have been seized by the government or removed completely. It was signed into law and our community has been in a panic. Sex Workers don't know where to go and many have taken to the streets to preserve their ability to survive. There are many sex workers who do not have smartphone technology and more importantly - do not know how to contact peer support or receive critical updates. It is critical that we mobilize our sex worker advocacy and rights organizations to provide meaningful resources to this highly at-risk population. This action will provide many of our organizations that are frozen in fear with the means and opportunity to reach out to the sex workers in their own community with what is truly needed - ACCESS to supportive services in their own community.
SWOP Behind Bars has been providing recently released incarcerated sex workers with smartphones for the past 6 months and it has completely changed our ability to further support them. We also recently published our reentry guide and workbook to help them navigate the world after a period of incarceration. Because of this work, we have a unique opportunity and more importantly - the MEANS to reach at risk populations within the sex worker community.
SWOP Behind Bars has had a tremendous impact with our call for the donation of smartphones, the immediate need to provide the community with the KNOW YOUR RIGHTS MATERIAL, and a booklet or zine on safety/security and smartphones. We have already communicated with a few sex worker rights orgs that have direct contact with woc and trans woc in the sex worker community who state this action could potentially save lives.
SWOP Behind Bars will be partnering with ANY other SW led SW rights organization to distribute Know Your Rights outreach cards with our 24-hour community support line on one side and the basic street version of KNOW YOUR RIGHTS on the back in English, Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese on the back side, to the most marginalized sex workers in our communities in the USA. We already answer our community support line 24/7 which has been in operation for 3 years and we have been promoting a toolkit for KNOW YOUR RIGHTS TRAINING for more than 6 months. Our calls to the support line have more than tripled since SESTA legislation was introduced. In addition to this increased distribution of KYR material, we will be distributing Smartphones to marginalized folks along with a booklet (or zine) about how to use it safely. We will include safety and health information including information about device security, internet security and smartphone applications that can be used with nothing more than a WIFI connection.
We have KYR cards in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Korean. Once the zine is completed and published and will be available within 3 days. It will be provided free of charge to community members, but it will also be available for download on kindle - and any smartphone - and for purchase (as a revenue stream to be used to reinvest in the project) through Amazon.com. We will start distributing ALL THREE ITEMS together for maximum impact by May1st. 4-SW Rights orgs would have autonomy over who the phone is distributed to and would only need to provide the bare minimum of information needed to give a phone to a marginalized sex worker to keep the barriers to accessibility low. They would be provided with access to the Fulcrum Outreach Application which houses the SWOP Community Outreach Tool at NO COST. The entire project could be implemented within 10-15 days with smartphones being in the hands of those who need it most before the end of May. We anticipate the project will continue through the summer and have already started to reach out to allies to make sure we are able to continue this project with strong follow up funding and support. We are working to partner with an ally phone service provided so that community members who receive the phone will be able to activate it at the LOWEST possible cost for service and every effort will be made to allow for low barrier payment options.
SW Rights Groups can request a SESTA Survival Kit from SWOP Behind Bars which we will promote through our listservs, social media and direct contact.
1 - Provision of hard resources (smartphone) that will enable everyone to access other hard and soft resources in their community such as food banks, low income housing, other community members, community leaders, low cost health care, clothing closets and jobs.
2 - Wide spread distribution of community support lines for sex workers in crisis to call for support including, but not limited to, Survivors Against Sesta, SWOP Community Support Line, HIPSDC Community Support Line, NYC Anti Violence Line, Trans Life Line and RAIIN Sexual Assault Line
3 - Widespread distribution of KYR material to both SW Advocacy Organizations and the most vulnerable sex workers in our community
4- Provision of soft resources like community support, safety and health information, tech info for smartphone apps that promote privacy and ability to safely network with community via encrypted email, web searching
5-Provision of Screening applications and tips that many sex workers may not know about i.e.: Mr. Number, P411, SWUP, Arrest Emergency Worksheets, secure messaging and apps and more. Just to be clear - while these smartphones will not be accompanied by a service contract - the individual will be able to secure the service of their choice and can use the fully operational phone with a calling/messaging app like Signal, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.
SWOP Behind Bars has been distributing phones, hard and soft resources and KYR materials to marginalized populations for more than a year now and have worked out many of the kinks in this project. SWOP Behind Bars has strong community support and our reputation for prompt and courteous response in well known. We are also a sister organization of SWOPUSA which has strong community links and networks even beyond our own. Our community support line enables sex workers and sex worker rights activists/advocates to contact us directly with a live person on the other end of the phone.
Thank you for your support!
Donated Smartphones must be in good or better condition, unlocked and reset to factory default settings. Please send phones to:

SWOP Behind Bars
Attn Alex Andrews
1060 Lotus Parkway, Unit 1011
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714

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Even as we continue to fight to survive under SESTA, the criminal justice system continues to churn and drag new folks in as it spews returning citizen back to their communities with few resources. They arrive home to find their families disconnected, their children living in foster care and their friends are few and far between. SWOP Behind Bars is reaching out to these returning citizens with offers of support even though our own resources are limited. The challenge continues to be both financial and capacity so if you are able to contribute financially...we sure do appreciate it. If you would prefer to volunteer...our community support line is ringing off the hook and we could use a few more friendly voices. Its a tangible way you can see the nned and lend a helping hand.

Thank you for your continued support. You can volunteer with SWOP Behind Bars by filling out the form on our website! We are most in need of volunteers to answer the community support line and for volunteers to assist with administrative tasks. All can be done remotely. We only ask that you commit to 5 hours a week and they can be at your convenience. http://swopbehindbars.org/get-involved/volunteer-locally/
Volunteer with us!
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More than a year in the making, SWOP Behind Bars has published our Reentry Workbooks and Journal for incarcerated sex workers! With the help of other sex workers, our publishing guru Bob, Pelshaw, author of Illegal to Legal, we would like to announce that our workbook is available for purchase on Amazon. It has been added to all of our incarcerated sex worker wishlists and can be purchased here ( https://www.amazon.com/Focus-Future-Re-Entry-Journal-Workbook/dp/1985307405/ref=sr_1_2?s=amazon-devices&ie=UTF8&qid=1523197233&sr=8-2&keywords=focus+on+the+future ) Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to further our work behind the walls of prisons and jails across the USA. We would appreciate your reviews on Amazon and be sure to grab a copy for yourself and for anyone else who might need it.

There are more than 200,000 women currently behind bars in the U.S., and that number is on the rise. In fact, women are the fastest growing segment of the prison population in the country. The rate of incarceration for women has been growing nearly twice as fast as that of men since 1985, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and account for about 7% of the total prison population in the U.S. The fastest growing population behind bars is black women. Prostitution is one of the few crimes where women are arrested more frequently than men, but prostitution alone does not explain the growing numbers of Black, Latino, and trans-women behind bars. If we are going to make reforms to crimes based on morality, we need to consider laws that disproportionately affect women, such as the prohibition of sex work. Sex workers are often subject to the same “revolving door” punitive approach that people convicted of drug offenses receive; women do time, but never receive the resources, social, economic, and psychological support that would enable them to leave the industry if they choose. We don’t often consider that sex work can be an intentional choice. Whether or not it is a symptom of poor economic conditions or volition it is always considered inherently immoral.
Reentry Workbook & Journal
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As most of you know already - Backpage was seized by the FBI and many of the most popular platforms for sex workers are falling like dominoes.

In light of this new development - we want you to know that any funds raised over and above the need for reentry services will go to assist marginalized populations access the resources they need to stay safe.

We don't really know what that looks like right now but it will probably involve a great deal of technology and literature to explain how to use safety resources.

Housing is going to become a serious issue because many sex workers are going to face homelessness very quickly because they have lost their ability to safely access the internet. Our entire community is facing very real social issues that will only be solved by financial support of people like you!

There are events and protests being planned right now to fight back and we fully support those efforts. Our work will remain to provide services and support to the marginalized populations that are MOST AT RISK for harm.

Thank you for your continued generosity!
Backpage Seized as sex workers struggle
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$2,710 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 33 people in 2 months
Funds raised will benefit:
PROJECT PROSPER of FLORIDA (Swop Behind Bars)
  Certified Charity
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St Petersburg, FL
EIN: 450491407
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