Hamilton County CHANGE Court continues to help women escape human trafficking

Posted at 5:23 PM, Jun 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-28 17:48:51-04

CINCINNATI -- Alicia Bishop said she's been in and out of jail 57 times. Back pain led the medical assistant and soccer mom to prescription pills, then to heroin.

That led Bishop to selling herself on the street for seven years. She was locked up and lectured numerous times by Police Spec. Nate Young.

Bishop could stand and tell a packed Hamilton County Courtroom her story Wednesday because it didn't end there.

"We weren't going to let her go," Young said.

He brought the idea of CHANGE Court to Municipal Court Judge Heather Russell. The program is designed to give those caught up in human trafficking a chance to get clean and walk away with a clean record.

"As the Cincinnati Police Department has grown in its idea of how to police, we learned that arresting our way out of situations like this just doesn't work," Young said.

CHANGE Court, which stands for Changing Habits And setting New Goals is Empowering, had its first graduates late last year.


"Mostly judges either send someone to jail or put them on probation, and I don't see them again. So for me to see someone who's gone through two years of intensive supervision probation -- where she's seen me every week and she's made it -- it inspires me to keep going," Russell said Wednesday.

The Ohio Supreme Court has certified Russell to have 40 women in the program. She has 15, with three more working toward a December graduation.

Bishop hopes to become a medical assistant again, as she shares with other women how her story changed.

"I didn't go through this for nothing, and I know God's going to use me to help other people," she said. "And that's what I want to do."