Since 2010, Project Dawn Court in Philadelphia has used a rehabilitative model to transform the lives of its participants for the better. The alternative problem-solving court was designed for defendants with a history of prostitution and drug offenses, and promises to erase their current charges in exchange for successful completion of Project Dawn’s year-long comprehensive program. Participants in Project Dawn Court are given individual treatment plans that include intensive supervision paired with treatment for sexual trauma, substance abuse, and other mental health concerns. The program also helps participants with housing, job training, education, child care services, and medical care.
The Project Dawn Court participants, judge, probation officer, Assistant District Attorney, Public Defender, and support staff work together as a team to drive the participant toward successful completion. During this process, the participants appear at monthly or bimonthly status hearings with the judge where they share their impactful stories and form bonds that can last a life time as they begin to heal from painful memories of the past.
Karen Hartman’s new play, Project Dawn, provides a small, but raw glimpse into what life is like on both sides of the Project Dawn Court. Directed by Abigail Adams and premiering at The People’s Light Theatre in Malvern, Pennsylvania, Project Dawn taps the brilliant talent of its actors to humanize and highlight the often-misunderstood world of prostituted persons through a dramatized courtroom narrative. The play tackles a variety of relevant issues including racism, mandated treatment, and gender based violence. Project Dawn performances are now showing on select nights through July 9, 2017. Proceeds from the June 23rd performance will benefit Dawn’s Place, a residential treatment center for women who have been trafficked. To purchase tickets to that performance in advance, click here. For more information, show times, and additional ticketing for Project Dawn click here.
All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or of Villanova University.