An Arizona appeals court has vacated a conviction against a transgender woman who was profiled for sex work, creating new hope that she might receive justice.
Monica Jones, a transgender woman of color, has been a vocal critic of Phoenix’s sex work diversion program, Project ROSE, because of the way it sweeps many vulnerable young women into the criminal justice system. The women are picked up off the street — without actually being arrested — and they are forced to either complete a Catholic Charities-run diversion program or they are then put under arrest. One of the reasons for its poor success rate is because any individual who has previously been arrested for sex work is ineligible for the program, thus many more women are arrested than actually “saved” from sex work. Because Phoenix’s law loosely interprets many behaviors as “intent to commit or solicit an act of prostitution,” many individuals are swept up who are not even engaging in sex work. That’s exactly what happened to Jones.