Justice Advocacy Program

The Benedict Center advocates for a more equitable justice system including support for public health approaches to substance use, mental illness and trauma instead of criminalization.

Instead of criminalizing women in the street based sex trade, we are working to shift local policies to establish a harm reduction and housing first based approach to improve women’s health and safety.

We achieve our advocacy goals through education, research, strategic partnerships with system partners and community partners, and demonstration of innovative models that work. Our advocacy efforts are informed by the lived experiences of women in our program. The Benedict Center has a proven track record of leading systems change in the criminal justice system. 

Our Current Focus

Our current advocacy focus is use a public health approach to help women in the street-based sex trade instead of criminalizing them.  We are leading a collaboration to establish a citywide pre-arrest diversion policy and to establish a continuum of services, housing and support that would allow women to live healthier, safer lives. The current criminal justice approach to Milwaukee’s street-based sex trade is a revolving cycle of arrests, jail and release and is not a long-term solution for anyone. Instead, it creates additional harms for women while failing to address their underlying needs.  Public health systems like housing and treatment tailored to help women in the street-based sex trade are the solutions we need.

The Sisters Program is prepared to help women find safety and begin healing while advocating for adequate, affordable and accessible housing, drug treatment, trauma counseling, and prevention of violence against women.