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As Jordan has learned, women have to be highly motivated to make it through the RISE program. So Judge Carr focuses on women with a lot at stake.

Texas is one of the few states that makes a fourth prostitution charge a felony. When somebody is facing serious prison time, she’s more ready to make “lasting and meaningful change,” Carr said. And that’s what the program aims to achieve.

So far, three women have successfully graduated from the program, with four more, including Jordan, expected to finish early next year. Cobi Tittle knows that doesn’t sound like a lot, but when the program started in 2011, with only county funds, it could support only 10 women.

Grant, with her granddaughter: “I want the other ladies who are out there to know there’s a better life.”
Grant, with her granddaughter: “I want the other ladies who are out there to know there’s a better life.”
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Tittle is the operations manager for the Tarrant County Community Supervision and Corrections Department, and she helped Carr create the RISE program.

Many women in the program slip up — going back to drugs or harmful relationships or skipping required counseling sessions. When that happens, they have to start over or risk getting kicked out of the program completely.

With his white beard, Carr is a stern father figure in the courtroom, lecturing and encouraging each woman as she cries or laughs depending on the week.

“There is frustration in this program. But you’ve got to have patience and stay committed,” he tells the women. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

According to Carr, the base cost to keep someone in jail is about $18,000 a year or $50 a day. Add the costs for treating the mental illnesses that all of the women suffer from, and the bill is much higher. But through state grants and partnerships for things like temporary housing with local nonprofits, such as the Salvation Army and Union Gospel Mission, the county is able to reduce its cost significantly, while still providing treatment.

With 33 women currently in the program, that’s saving the county (and taxpayers) about $600,000 a year, Tittle said.

The goal of the program is to enable the women to live healthy, independent lives, with jobs that allow them to pay their own bills and maybe even save some money along the way.

The Net is one of the program’s nonprofit partners. It provides women with the social skills and positive group experiences they need to build a lasting support system. Having proper outlets for social engagement can make or break a woman’s recovery from addiction, Carr explained.

“So many of these women want out,” said Ice, director of The Net. But getting off the streets, away from prostitution, and free from addiction isn’t easy.

“We have to stand in their reality,” explained Deborah Caddy, a licensed clinical social worker and director of rape crisis and victim services at The Women’s Center.

During sexual abuse and trauma, people learn coping mechanisms to survive, Caddy said. And those coping methods commonly include drugs, alcohol, and self-harm because they numb the pain.

“They [victims] do it to forget — not to feel,” said Meier, also with the Women’s Center. “If everything you have to feel is hurtful and harmful, you’ll do anything to forget.”

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Arletta Grant is 44 now and scheduled to graduate from the RISE program next year. If she’s still drug-free on Feb. 17, she will be able to mark her third “clean” anniversary on the same day her oldest son turns 23.

Sitting inside a McDonald’s near her apartment in Meadowbrook, which she shares with her daughter and granddaughter, Grant worries that she’s not ready to be on her own, that she’s “not ready to tell that probation officer to move on.

“There are still a lot of things that I need to correct, and I’m just now getting the counseling I need,” Grant said.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Grover. She believes preventing sexual abuse in children would significantly reduce the number of women who become sexually exploited. And training young boys to value other people would prevent the demand for prostitution before it starts.

“We have to teach our kids early on that it’s not just ‘stranger danger,’ ” she said. And adults need to be taught that 98 percent of kids who speak up about sexual abuse are telling the truth.

“I wish someone had been my voice when it was happening to me,” said Grover, who was sexually abused by her father.

The tiny stud in Grant’s bottom lip catches the light as she glances at her 11-year-old niece on the McDonald’s playground.

“I want the other ladies who are out there to know there’s a better life — we’re worth a whole lot more than we’re allowing men to give us. There’s so much more to life than standing on a street corner,” she said. “A lot of them [prostitutes] have beautiful dreams, just nobody to show them the right direction.”

Grant is working on a memoir tentatively titled “Let the Truth Be Told.” She wants to get her high school diploma and maybe go to college.

“There’s a life beyond all … all the past,” Grant said as her niece walked over and placed her small hand on her aunt’s strong shoulder.


Fort Worth freelance writer Sarah Angle can be reached at sarahlesangle@gmail.com.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Regardless of one’s personal stance on people buying and selling sex, the claim that “the average age of girls who are compelled into prostitution is 12 to 14” is a myth, and not doing a fact check on such an important matter is more than just an oversight.

    For starters, look at Chris Hall’s article “Is One of the Most-Cited Statistics About Sex Work Wrong?”. You’ll find plenty of facts and sources in it. He concludes with a statement Ms Angle should take to heart:

    “For those of us who write about sex workers and those who make laws that determine their lives, they are a reminder of our responsibility: To quiet the voices in our heads and listen, rather than repeating numbers without knowing what they mean or where they came from.”

    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/09/is-one-of-the-most-cited-statistics-about-sex-work-wrong/379662/

    • So you are saying that all the organizations that have devoted their lives to helping those trapped in this modern day slavery are making up facts? I know ppl who have helped rescue ppl as young as elementary aged and then on an every day basis groups here are taking in teens as young as the ones you say are mythical. 1 in 7 runaways (on the low end) are trafficked within an extremely short time of leaving their homes. Traffickers wait at train & bus stations looking for those they can manipulate. They are very skilled at finding vulnerable youth. Then when they get them to their house (typically on the guise of saying they will take care of them) they are often raped and beaten into submission.

      Calling those that are being trafficked “sex workers” might imply that they are actually the ones getting paid. THATS the myth. The one making the money is the pimp. An average trafficker can make $250,000 a year of ONE girl/woman. While he is becoming a millionaire, her average life expectancy is 7 years.

      I too once was not knowledgeable about this. Then I decided to get involved. I see the results. My friends bear the scars physically and every other way of this so called “sex work”. Atleast call it what it is…slavery.

      • Girlfriend. Go read the article linked in his comment. He’s right, and it’s more complex than what you’re saying. Stop being defensive long enough to learn something.

  2. You lose me when your philosophy predictably includes the following sentence: “There’s not enough money allocated to the issue in Fort Worth to accurately measure its prevalence and make people sit up and take notice, she said” So you are admitting that you really do not know the extent of the problem– which, more than likely, is why people are indifferent. Where would said money go? How efficiently would it be used? If you admit that you don’t know the extent of the problem, how can you have a viable plan? Money given to lard butted bureaucrats and assorted “do-gooders” will not put a dent in an age old practice. It would be refreshing if someone,anyone didn’t use human suffering as a tax payer funded poorly defined career opportunity.

    • there are many of us “assorted do-gooders” as you mentioned that work day in and day out for not.one.cent to help those in this city that are stuck in this modern day slavery. If you could sit across from these brave women who- much like slaves from hundreds of years ago- are compelled into this by various things and then when they want to get out, they are in danger of their life. Literally. They are beat, raped, tortured, forced to work for NOTHING and treated as less then human. That money you think they are making actually goes to their task masters. Yes, this is happening here and I- as well as many ppl I know- fight tirelessly- at much cost to ourselves in time and other expenses- for these brave ladies to know that someone, somewhere loves them and believes in them. seems to me they are worth tax dollars more than other things we waste money on….

      • OK well here’s a novel idea: if you are a prostitute get off of drugs, disavow liquor and get a job —ANY job. Try to re-create a link with your family if the government hasn’t destroyed it in the name of greater “Guberism”. Go to any local parish and proclaim your need for some further assistance. I am personally not impressed by life long criminals who really don’t want to give up their lifestyles—but want some crafty profit mongering PR firm or homeless shelter to perpetrate their cycle of destruction at tax payer expense.

        • Skeptic, I, unlike you, and I’m even convinced, most other knuckle-headed, self-worshiping, Tea-Bagging half-wits and perverts love America. Why do you hate America? What is it about ‘for it is in giving that we recieve’ that confuses you? Surender your selfish arrogence and put your silly, stinking Guberism into your pointed ears. Why do you hate and abuse our Lord’s simple instructions. Salvation Army and many, many other charities and Americans learned that as children.I got you on my Prayer List.

  3. Thank you for showing that these women are more than just “former prostitutes.” They are real people with goals and dreams. And I also believe that what Ms. Angle referenced about more severe prosecution of johns would go along way to slow the demand for prostitution. I hope more action is taken soon.

  4. This article shows a part of Fort Worth that few people want to see or even think about. I applaud the authors efforts to turn over the rock and show what’s underneath. You can look at the wording and statistics or look at the big picture. Yes this problem has been around for a while and will probably be around for a while longer but if this article reaches that one person that has a world changing idea that changes the game, then it was worth writing. But I have been know to always see greener grass. Thanks for the article.

    • Sorry but the purveyors of this industry are not going to read this newspaper or have a “Road to Damascus” experience and give up an illegal profitable life style. The economy is terrible and about to get worse with more illegals under the social welfare umbrella–that is specifically why this article is written–to bilk the hard working tax payer out of more money.

      • Yes. North Texas (and TX across the board) is methodically indoctrinated in order to maintain the population of drugged, dumbed down and distracted so MX and Central American “golden children” can continue to pour in, be “received” accordingly, get the multitude of services they need (while American citizens/veterans die awaiting treatment and or earned benefits). TX, already disproportionately illiterate, illegal and illegitimate, will continue to be the preferred territory for the former and related benefactors, including the reported 6 major MX cartels headquartered in DFW. Fort Worth does the best job of welcoming and hosting them resulting in a predominance of growing underclass; count on the proliferation of sex trafficking, drug distribution, sales and storage, illegal guns and associated disproportionate street and business crime. Locally, the inmates have had the keys a long, long time.

        • ‘For he was a stranger and he let me in’….’Love your neighbor as yourself’….you Peckerwoods are a piece of work. I humbly suggest you grow up and get a life.

  5. I believe it took great courage to tell the world there life stories and Miss Jordan is an amazing person that has come a long ways I am truly amazed of all her accomplishments she is an inspiration to us all and I am truly honored to have the opportunity to get to know her I would like to thank the rise Program for helping this wonderful woman and helping them become the woman they are truly meant to be.

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