Treating Victims like Victims instead of Criminals

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The NYTimes recently covered an innovative tool to help young women who have been abused, taken advantage of, or otherwise forced into unthinkable situations.  The program is called “Girl’s Court“.  The purpose of these “courts” is to remove at risk girls from the criminal system and place them into environments that recognize them as victims.

It is appropriate for our courts to see them as victims because these girls have been subject to human trafficking, have been pushed into prostitution at young ages, well before 18, and have generally come from environments that took advantage of them and their youth.

Before Girl’s Courts, these children were being brought to the courthouse and treated like criminals.  Often, they were caught in a cycle where they would be arrested for prostitution, serve a week or two in jail, then be released from jail.  They would go back to the streets and get re-arrested for prostitution, serve another few weeks, and go back to the streets.  This cycle would go on and on until the young lady would end up convicted of a more serious crime, contract a life ending illness, find herself in a deadly situation, or be otherwise disregarded by society with a criminal history that would make it impossible for her to change her life.

In my previous experiences as a public defender, I would often see police officers acting like Johns to arrest prostitutes.  Rather than try to get these young women off the streets, they would treat them like criminals, mishandle them, and in some cases, commit crimes against the women themselves.  For instance, police officers have been accused of forcing these young women to sleep with them in order to avoid arrest.  Here’s an example of police officers committing forced rape.

It is refreshing to see the judicial system finally start to shift toward treating these young women like victims.  The way they have been treated in the past is shameful to the judicial system and to the moral fabric of the United States.  If is high time to stop tolerating the abuse and mistreatment of young women by our court system, especially when these women are the victims of sexual exploitation, abuse, rape, and sexual slavery.

As shown in the article, these young women’s lives can be turned around when our society supports them and, for once in their lives, gives them help.

Despite what some people may think, no one chooses that life.  When people see the 40-year-old drug-addicted prostitute, they assume that she made the decision to ruin her life.  What they are failing to see is the 12 year old who was victimized by a predatory, sexually driven society.

It is my hope that Colorado will join States like New York and California to help these young women and make the change that is in the best interest of these young women and the People of our Great State.

 

The information in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or as the creation of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, please contact an Attorney.

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Nathaniel has worked in criminal law on both sides of the aisle spending time working for the prosecution as well as the defense. Most recently Nathaniel has represented individuals in violent felonies and drug cases. Prior to this work, Nathaniel handled DWIs, Domestic Violence Cases, Property Crimes, and White Collar Crimes. On the prosecutorial side, Nathaniel has most notably worked in Bosnia helping to prosecute individuals who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Bosnian War from 1993-1995. In particular, Nathaniel helped in the prosecution of military leaders who arranged for the organized murders and rapes of innocent civilians in various towns in Bosnia. Nathaniel is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, Northwestern University, and Phillips Exeter Academy. Google Profile: Nathaniel Baca