Human Trafficking Diversion Program
In 2015, District Attorney Dan May, and several prosecutors from the Special Victims Unit, determined that the criminal justice system needed to change the judicial system’s perception related to prostitution cases. We determined that victims of human trafficking and sex trade were often in need of education, financial assistance, and community assistance rather than prosecution. At that time the Office of the District Attorney for 4th Judicial District established a Human Trafficking Diversion Program. Listed below is a summary of the program, its goals, and directives.
To minimize recidivism for women and men who are identified victims of human trafficking and individuals involved in the sex trade through education, assistance, and support. To provide resources to qualified participants which empower them to pursue a safer and more stable future. To provide education and community support as an alternative to criminal prosecution.
As of January 1, 2015, police officers with the Colorado Springs Police Department will arrest and issue summons for individuals engaged in prostitution. They will be given a court date in the First Appearance Center. On their first court appearance the candidates will be given information about the program and given the opportunity to participate. If the candidate chooses not to participate in the program, the candidate may plead guilty to the charge and face the statutory penalties (including potential incarceration) or request a jury trial. If the candidate chooses to participate in the program and successfully attends the four sessions, the charges will be dismissed at a graduation ceremony at the end of the session – without the need to return to court.
Each participant must attend and participate in all four sessions in order to successfully complete the diversion program and earn a case dismissal. In these sessions, the participants will complete a needs assessment, be introduced to health education, learn about work, finance and education resources available and attend a resource fair. There will be an opportunity for make-up sessions, but participants will be required to provide notice prior to a missed session and have a valid reason for the absence.
Sessions will be led by our volunteer community partners to include: the Memorial Hospital FNE Program, the Human Trafficking Taskforce, Restore Innocence, TESSA, the Department of Human Resources, the Colorado Springs Police Department, the Women’s Resource Center, and the Dream Center. The program will not rely on the use of El Paso County funds but the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s Office will volunteer the use of a meeting space and resources for the session meetings.
There are two Deputy District Attorneys assigned to the oversight of the program. They will evaluate whether candidates are appropriate for program participation and will make the final determination whether a participant has complied with the requirements of the program before the case(s) are dismissed. A community volunteer will coordinate the sessions. The facilitator of the program is not affiliated with the District Attorney’s Office but will have a working knowledge of human trafficking issues.
Police officers and Deputy District Attorneys will not be directly involved with the sessions due to the need to promote openness and candor among participants. However, any information involving an active threat of violence or harm will be reported to law enforcement in due course.
Free child care is available for the participants’ children through the Court Care Program at the El Paso County Courthouse (Map) while the participants are attending one of the program sessions.
Number of Participants
The programming will begin when there are at least 4 qualified participants. In order to provide as much individualized attention as possible, we hope to have no more than 8 -10 participants per group.
Measure of Success
Success will be measured by recidivism among participants. Officers of the Colorado Springs Police Department will report whether individuals committed new criminal offenses after 6, 12, 18 and 24 months from graduation. Additionally, volunteers will contact and interview the participants at the various monthly increments mentioned above.