Anyone who has been following this situation since MARCH knows that this has been a thoroughly exhausting experience for Kamylla. It has been one thing after another. If you are unaware, please refer to:
This situation has been horrible.
Thank goodness she was given some relief in the form of a dismissal of her case.
Time to party right? If only.
Kamylla wants nothing more than to finally try to have a normal life, a balanced life.
One would assume that since her case was dismissed, that all would be rosy. That is not the reality, in fact very little has changed and her situation will not change until she can be seen as employable.
No one offering a job that equates to rent food and stability will hire Kamylla.
She has had several job opportunities pop up (the result of countless applications and resumes being submitted for the last two years) only to be told they reject her due to the arrest record, and DESPITE the dismissal of her case!
She is also being hit with a double whammy because she is trying to get her full citizenship. She has done everything required of her thus far to legally become a citizen of the United States, but will very likely be rejected if the prostitution arrest record is not erased from her record completely.
Please be CLEAR- while a dismissal is very good on one hand, it leaves a person with more legal and social hoops to jump through, in order to be fully WHOLE and FUNCTIONING.
The latest circumstance really hit me….
Kamylla is not standing there with her hand out. She has plainly stated she feels humiliated by this entire process. She is extremely grateful beyond words for all of the help and support she has received thus far, it has been her lifeline, but her desire is to be earning a living to support herself and her teenage daughter. She wants to WORK. That is all she has wanted from day one of this long struggle. She wants the dignity of being able to provide for herself and not having to ask for any help. She is not in such a position. The state of Texas still has her severely handicapped thanks to the arrest, an arrest that should not have happened in the first place.
She recently found that a CHURCH near her home was hiring. She does not have a car therefore this would have been perfect. The wage being offered was $18 an hour with the promise of quite a bit of over time on the weekends. She applied for the position and was very hopeful, after all- it’s a church, right?! especially with a dismissal and not a conviction. This is what Kamylla had hoped anyway.
How many times has she had to explain her situation? How many times has she already been soaked-Baptized in marginalization and stigma, while explaining her situation to social workers, lawyers, ‘rescue orgs’, well meaning individuals, numerous employers who only turned her away….
No such goodness.
She was called in to the church after applying to discuss her application. The church representative said her application was the ‘best’ one they had seen, HOWEVER- ‘what is this on your record?’ they asked, pointing out the prostitution arrest.
Kamylla sighs. Here we go again.
“Yes I know, but see there (she is pointing to where the document stated that her case had a DISMISSED status) read where it says dismissed. My case was dismissed”.
He looked at her and said “What is a woman like you doing getting arrested for such a thing?”
Kamylla didn’t want to explain every detail and just tried to refocus his attention on the dismissal.
This church administrator says to her “I’m sorry, but with the kind of record you have I cannot have you working here. It’s better that you clean up your record.”
To which she replies “YES this is exactly what I am doing but I don’t have the money yet. Once I do it will take another 6-8 weeks for it to be cleared”
He then says to her “When your record is clean come back, and if the position is still available I will give you the job. You had the best application otherwise”.
This is the legacy of criminalization.
Even when a person is granted a DISMISSAL of prostitution charges, the social stigma is so powerful and with a lack of equal protection under the law, they may as well have been found guilty as far as employers and landlords are concerned!
Kamylla wants nothing more than to be able to earn an income for herself and her daughter. Her daughter is sixteen and they are barely surviving thanks to this horrible chain of events. The state of Texas has effectively shut Kamylla down, she is unable to THRIVE. Kamylla and her daughter have no luxuries to speak of. They barely have essentials including food.
Kamylla is exhausted and her spirit is all but broken.
The sex worker nation and allies have rallied around Kamylla in a very amazing way. Here she is at the final stretch of this fight to get her life back. She is doing everything within her power to change her circumstances but she has been shut down by her prostitution arrest record. It doesn’t even matter that her case was DISMISSED! This is the societal sentence, the outcome for every person arrested for prostitution. Options are all but completely diminished. All doors that are normally open will be slammed closed.
She is being rejected for employment at every turn despite the dismissal. She has done everything she can think of to find work and to remedy this situation.
Having heard so much around ‘restoration’ from faith based abolitionists, I found it profoundly and tragically ironic (but in NO WAY surprising) that this was a church rejecting her and on such grounds and knowing her to be a single mother.
It IS up to the kindness and generosity of fellow human beings for Kamylla to survive at this point.
Please donate to help Kamylla clear her record and stay in her home long enough to get employment secured once her record is cleared.
Personally, I would love to hear whatever excuse that church administrator would have for Kamylla- were she to go back and show him a clear record. There won’t be any position available is my wager. She shouldn’t give them another moment of her precious life anyway.
A prostitution record is a lifelong sentence of stigma and shaming. At this juncture in Kamylla’s case- this is just an arrest record with a dismissal of charges! But it does NOT matter.
The above was written 8-31-2015
The next morning (today) 9-1-2015, yet ANOTHER employer replied to Kamylla. Kamylla had placed an application with a cleaning company. They told her: until her record is COMPLETELY CLEAN they will not hire her!! TWICE in 24 hours.
Rent is due. She has nothing.
She has been looking high and low for employment.
She needs $1500 to clear her arrest record which is effectively blocking EVERY employment opportunity she does find.
She cannot do sex work of ANY kind.
Put your feet in her shoes. Imagine how this would break your spirit. She is a mother fighting to keep her family in their home, fighting to eat, and at every turn the doors are slammed in her face.
Her birthday is in 18 days.
My gift to her, if only I could give it- would be EMANCIPATION.
Kamylla’s fund is here (it is empty despite the amount seen. Look at the dates of donations. That total has already gone to previous rent)
This is the problem. The SOLUTION begins with the ESPLERP legal challenge!
Written by Domina Elle