Shifting the Paradigm by Judge Paul Herbert

by Wendy Grace Evans
May 24, 2012

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Judge Paul Herbert of Columbus, Ohio leads the Changing Actions to Change Habits (CATCH) program, which is a two-year program for women who have been involved in sex work or human trafficking. Instead of sending them to prison, the program allows the women to spend two years on probation and to enter an intensive rehabilitation program for substance use and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Judge Herbert shares some reflections on the CATCH program.

The Changing Actions to Change Habits (CATCH) program is two years in length, and while many women do not make it the whole way through, I can track them through the criminal databases. Data shows that of the 80 women who have been accepted into the program, 78 percent have not committed a new crime. The remaining 22 percent are women who relapsed and have committed crimes and are back in the system.

The other venture we are pursuing is an attempt to differentiate between prostitution and human trafficking. The more I see women come through my courtroom, the more I am convinced that many are human trafficking victims.

I have spoken to different people in search of a human trafficking assessment tool. I found one in Washington, D.C. with the Polaris Project, which is the leading national human trafficking research organization. It defines human trafficking as follows: whether by force, fraud, or coercion, a person submits to a commercial sex act if they are over the age of 18. If they are under the age of 18, the selling party must have sold them for sex in order for sex to fall under the guidelines of human trafficking.

Based on this definition, we assessed 20 women who are currently in the program, and 93 percent fell within the guidelines of being human trafficking victims.

This tool helps enormously because it gives me hard data, which can help me shift the culture and mindset of how people in Ohio and the country view prostitution. In Columbus alone, 1,500 women a year are arrested for prostitution. Based on the results of the initial Polaris assessment, this would mean that approximately 1,396 are actually trafficking cases. I cannot sit back and watch this happen. The recovery centers are full, and women are now waiting in jail cells.

I also had another epiphany, which is a belief that Ohio State University should become the first university to open a center on human trafficking. The center would provide research, education, publishing, treatment, and outreach. Some of the most prominent issues that these women face include Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from trauma, Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), substance use, mental illness, homelessness, and physical health problems (including vision and dental problems).

I am looking for an approach that keeps the women at the center of our attention as a community so they can heal, and so society understands they have been sold into this lifestyle of degradation—and it should be said that it is hardly a lifestyle. It is more of a death sentence.

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Category: HRC Insight

Paul Appleby: I Played Like Breathing

by Wendy Grace Evans
July 25, 2011

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Paul Appleby, a Licensed Substance Abuse Counselor from Tucson, Arizona shares his thoughts about aspects of his life, self-care, his parents, losing himself and getting started again in recovery with the HRC’s Wendy Grace Evans. In his own words, he reflects on his journey.

I came from a family of nine and was raised in the sixties. I was always exploring life from a different perspective, asking questions and never getting any answers. I watched people around me and did not want to grow up because the world seemed so crazy. My mind worked in a way that didn’t seem to work the same as people my age. I tried to escape it. I felt odd even in my own family. What gave me a sense of reality was sports. My father was a funny, but very serious man and conscientious about his family. He introduced me to baseball. I had never seen him play, but those that did said he was great. He had seen his own father hung to death, but baseball became our relationship and I ate, slept, and drank baseball. At twelve I was throwing 80 mile an hour pitches. I played like breathing. My father worked three jobs.

I was young when my father died of black lung disease, heart disease, and diabetes. He dwindled from this opposing figure to nothing and my mother would literally pick him up. During this time she developed cancer and died shortly after my father. I was taking her back and forth to the hospital, but I still had a mom. She would tell me about my gift, but she would tell me that she was dying and dying to be with my father. I wondered if I was not important enough to live for. When she died, that was the thought that permeated my mind. And there were no answers.

I quit playing baseball and turned to basketball, leaving my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, for Central Arizona Community College and eventually the University of San Diego on a basketball scholarship. Unfortunately, I fractured both kneecaps and lost my scholarship, as well as an opportunity to play professional ball. These losses, including the death of both of my parents, propelled me into drugs and alcohol. This took the shape of 12 years of addiction, including eight years on crack, two years of homelessness, sleeping on the streets, in parks, and under bridges in two states.

The pain of my parents’ death became something I sought out once I was tied to them as a victim in my own memory. I selected self-destruction, developing defense mechanisms to protect myself from feeling emotion. Eventually I would pride myself as someone who had no emotions until I entered into recovery.

For me, living in recovery is going to the mountains, praying, getting together with friends for relaxation, going to meetings and staying focused. I really have to pay attention and be grateful for being clean and sober. My work life can bleed into my personal life. I focus on trust because no one wants to live in a self imposed shelter, or box of fear. I ask the question “Who is really living in recovery?” I don’t forget what it was like to be homeless, doing drugs, and feeling so badly about who I was, when I know that today I have been given the chance to start a recovery program to help other people. Today I have been in recovery for 17 years. I like to say that I have “flipped the script.” I am a Licensed Substance Abuse Counselor so that I can help others as I have been helped with a “Yes, I can” attitude.

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Category: Guest Entry