A terrific post at Vice.com by Molly Crabapple —
In May 2013, Monica Jones, a student and sex-work activist, was arrested for “manifesting prostitution” by the Phoenix police.
Hers was one of more than 350 arrests carried out by Project ROSE in conjunction with Phoenix police since the program’s inception in 2011.
Project ROSE is a Phoenix city program that arrests sex workers in the name of saving them. In five two-day stings, more than 100 police officers targeted alleged sex workers on the street and online. They brought them in handcuffs to the Bethany Bible Church. There, the sex workers were forced to meet with prosecutors, detectives, and representatives of Project ROSE, who offered a diversion program to those who qualified. Those who did not may face months or years in jail.
In the Bethany Bible Church, those arrested were not allowed to speak to lawyers. Despite the handcuffs, they were not officially “arrested” at all.
In law enforcement, language goes through the looking glass. Lieutenant James Gallagher, the former head of the Phoenix Vice Department, told me that Project ROSE raids were “programs.” The arrests were “contact.” And the sex workers who told Al Jazeera that they had been kidnapped in those windowless church rooms—they were “lawfully detained.”
“Project ROSE is a service opportunity for a population involved in a very complex problem,” Lieutenant Gallagher wrote to me in an email. Sex workers were criminals and victims at once. They were fair game to imprison, as long as they were getting “help.”