For about 20,000 women in the Chicagoland area, prostitution is a way of life. Over the years, many of these women are arrested and locked up briefly, only to return to the streets. The cycle is something that Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart hopes to break with a rehabilitation program designed to help women leave lives of prostitution.
On Thursday night, some of the inmates and former prostitutes from the program will share their stories in a two-hour documentary titled, “Prostitution: Leaving the Life” on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
As the documentary explains, the Cook County Jail founded the Department of Women’s Justice Services in 1999 in response to a growing female inmate population. In 2008, the department joined mental health professionals and former prostitutes to address why women begin working as prostitutes, and helping those women on leave that life behind,find medical care and safe housing.
“This is not a victimless crime, it never has been,” Sheriff Dart says in the documentary. “What actually goes on is not the movie ‘Pretty Woman.'”
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