GEMS advocacy efforts can take many forms from a referral in the continuum of care to direct advocacy within the legal system. GEMS has assisted in the development and implementation of court advocacy that provides legal advocacy and support for young women arrested for prostitution-related crimes. Since many victims of sexual exploitation are frequently unfamiliar with the laws and legal system, GEMS legal advocacy staff meets in person with young women and serves as supportive and understanding advocates to help them navigate the legal system and provide information regarding commercial sexual exploitation and services. GEMS legal staff also works with judges, defense attorneys, and prosecuting attorneys to educate them on the issues and complexities surrounding victims of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.
Alternative to Incarceration
GEMS’ Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) program is a part of GEMS legal advocacy efforts to provide defender-based alternative sentencing services and support for young women ages 16–21 who are survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and are involved in the criminal court system within the boroughs of New York City on matters related to prostitution and correlating arrests. The goal of the ATI program is to ensure that all young women arrested for prostitution-related crimes are afforded the opportunity to connect with support services within the community to assist in exiting and recovery.
Family Court Advocacy
GEMS’ Family Court program is a component of GEMS legal advocacy efforts to provide defender-based alternative sentencing services and support for girls under the age of 18 who are survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and are involved in family court within the boroughs of New York City on matters related to prostitution, correlating arrests, PINS petitions, and child protective concerns. GEMS legal advocacy staff are most often asked to intervene in the following family court proceedings: delinquency, person in need of supervision (PINS), and child protective cases that concern the Administration for Children’s Services.