Our conclusion questions the utility of an alliance between criminal justice and social services professionals that remains dominated by punitive criminal justice paradigms. The alliance’s ideological focus on changing individual women’s decision-making processes translates into practices that punish street-involved women for decisions they make in the context of the pervasive gender, class, and ethno-racial discrimination that limits their life choices. Hence even when street-involved women receive therapeutic social services in the alliance context, more often than not they return to the same socioeconomic conditions that impelled them to work the street in the first place. Street-based sex trading and the illicit drug use it often supports stem from and take place within the context of women’s complex lives in communities struggling with multiple oppressions. The nuances involved in such situations require pragmatic, evidence-based legislative and policy approaches that reflect these complex realities; without these, the system will continue to fail the very women it aims to assist.
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