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"People go in and out of the business." Amber Batts, photographed in her room at the Glenwood Center halfway house in Anchorage on Thursday, Nov. Batts pleaded guilty and was convicted of sex trafficking in 2015.(Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News)Amber Batts, photographed in her room at the Glenwood Center halfway house in Anchorage on Thursday, Nov. Batts pleaded guilty and was convicted of sex trafficking in 2015.Batts placed ads for them online, took credit cards, screened potential clients and maintained an apartment where women took men to have sex. She was sentenced to five years for second-degree sex trafficking.Batts had prior felony convictions that influenced her sentence.
She had two small children, her husband at the time was hurt at work, she said, and they needed money. He gave her the rundown: always get the money up front; don't do anything extra without a condom; don't do anything that doesn't feel safe; let somebody else know where you are. That's what I thought of as sex trafficking: force and a lack of consent. As I researched, though, I saw changes to the law in 2012 had struck the word "prostitution" from statutes and replaced it with "sex trafficking." Batts was charged with a crime that had formerly been called "promoting prostitution," but is now called second-degree sex trafficking.Amber wasn't interested in diversion programs or prosecuting johns.The victimization that primed women for prostitution, the circumstances that led them into the life, to her, seem inevitable and unstoppable.(Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News) Batts tried to work in offices, but she kept coming back to sex work.Even when she was running her business, she said, she also had sex for money. One woman she worked with was a single mom, recently out of school, who needed to pay for a new car. The main thing all of them had in common: an ability to disconnect from their bodies, Batts said.