TYLA Court (Turn Your Life Around)

Girl sitting in corner of dark dirty room

TYLA Court (Turn Your Life Around)
Mission Statement

To help individuals arrested for prostitution-related charges escape the sex trade industry by providing them with resources that address their root issues.


History

The TYLA program is a therapeutic treatment court that can provide trauma therapy, drug and alcohol treatment, and other rehabilitative services in lieu of jail or prison.   Participation can lead to the dismissal of charges.

TYLA was founded in 2013 by Selah Freedom, the Sarasota Police Department, the State Attorney's Office, and Judge Erika Quartermaine, and extended to Manatee County in 2018.

Women in black dress leaning on car with open window speaking to a man LightboxSelah Freedom is a national organization whose mission is to end sex trafficking and exploitation. Established in 2011, Selah Freedom recognized that victims in the sex trade industry were being trafficked and exploited in our own American communities. They understood that while a majority of victims suffered from drug abuse and mental illness, these issues were symptomatic of the root issue - childhood sexual abuse. With this knowledge, Selah Freedom approached the Sarasota Police Department, who had been dealing with decades of prostitution-related issues in their community.  SPD chose to unite with Selah Freedom to work towards solutions for this underserved population. It was evident that this problem would not dissolve through arrests, so it is for this reason that Selah Freedom, the Sarasota Police Department, and the State Attorney's Office came together to form TYLA. This prostitution court diversion program offers survivors of sex trafficking and exploitation that have prostitution-related arrests an opportunity to receive restorative programming which specifically addresses the root issue of childhood sexual trauma, a factor in 100% of the survivors Selah Freedom has served, and results in the expungement of prostitution-related arrests. TYLA is a pre-trial intervention program or a condition of probation. In Manatee, TYLA Court is a collaboration between Selah Freedom, the Bradenton Police Department, the State Attorney’s Office, and the Public Defender..Woman's face smiling with red brick in background Lightbox

Selah Freedom also offers an Organizational Mentorship Program. Selah Freedom has been deemed a leading nonprofit organization in the anti-sex trafficking movement. This program was created to help each organization with their unique needs as they prepare to launch and serve this population. Their Organizational Mentorship Program provides organizations with all of the tools needed to feel confident, equipped and sustainable.

For more information please visit www.selahfreedom.com


Flow Chart / How it Works

First Contact & Screening

Building a Relationship

Law enforcement still conducts prostitution stings, but instead of taking the detainee to jail, the subject is taken to meet a case manager representing a detox center and an NGP specializing in sex trafficking diversion and providing residential services.

Assessment / Referral

Stepping into Freedom

Mental health screening, Medical screening, age verification, gender identification, LGBTQ designation, screening for recruiters, and criminal history check is conducted a by trauma case specialist and/or victim advocate

Court

The Legal Process

Open communication is essential between law enforcement, case managers, prosecutors, public defender/office of regional counsel and judges. The subject will have monthly court dates until the successful completion of a 12-18 month program, after which, the dismissal of criminal charges will be sought if appropriate.

Case Management

Recovery Journey

The case manager connects with the subject regarding legal issues, financial obligations, healthy relationships, trauma therapy, employment, housing and safety.


Criteria for TYLA Court Eligibility

A charge of prostitution.  Non-prostitution charges involving a defendant who would be appropriate for TYLA may, by agreement between defense counsel and the State Attorney's Office, and after meeting eligibility requirements of the TYLA case coordinator, transfer to the TYLA docket.


Other Points of Entry

Survivors may request for Selah Freedom to meet with them while they are incarcerated to complete an initial intake and see if they would qualify for TYLA Court. They may also contact their attorneys to request TYLA for them as well. Once determined they qualify for services with Selah Freedom, the State Attorney is contacted to determine if they qualify for TYLA.


TYLA in the News






Stats / Success

Woman's face smiling with sun behind hair Lightbox92% of clients in Sarasota County TYLA, where this program was originally founded, have not returned to “the life,” after graduating. Since the inception of Manatee County TYLA Court in January 2018, 83% of participants have graduated from the program and not returned to “the life” after graduation.

Sarasota 92%
Manatee 83%

This was the first time that I wasn’t treated like a criminal by law enforcement. I knew they were actually there to help me. They brought me to meet someone from Selah Freedom. They saved me.

Selah Freedom Survivor Graduate

Contacts / Partners

Selah Freedom

12th Judicial Circuit Court

State Attorney’s Office
  • Ed Brodsky, State Attorney
  • Craig Schaeffer, Chief ASA
  • Leslie Parcels, TYLA Court Coordinator
  • (941) 861-4400
  • www.sao12.org

Office of Regional Counsel
  • Mark Brewer, Assistant Regional Counsel
  • Gabriele Plendl, Assistant Regional Councel
  • (941) 316-8348

First Step of Sarasota