Liyah Guilkey was able to leave prison to access CATCH Court, a specialized docket in the Franklin County, Ohio., Municipal Court for women who are victims of human trafficking, News From The States reports. “Every person that wrote you off as no good, who viewed you as a commodity and treated you as if you were disposable, made a big freaking mistake,” said Gwen England, CATCH Court Program Leader as she introduced Guilkey. “This is your Julia Roberts’ Pretty Woman moment.” Guilkey is one of 16 women who graduated from CATCH Court Friday at the Ohio Statehouse. CATCH Court, founded in 2009, stands for creating autonomy through collaborative healing. The prostitution charge is dropped if participants successfully complete the two-year program.
Tears, encouraging words, hugs, cheers, smiles, music and hope filled the Statehouse during the graduation. Pomp and Circumstance played as the 16 women walked into the atrium. “I had been used,” Guilkey said. “I had been left for dead several times and I had been left behind. I didn’t love myself, these women who owe me absolutely nothing … the people who picked me up when I didn’t have the strength to stand for myself, I just want to say thank you.” CATCH Court is a criminal justice program for women who volunteer. They are connected to a probation officer, treatment and community partners. Judge Jodi Thomas, who presides over CATCH Court, has weekly check-ins with the women in the program on Thursdays. Friday was the 13th CATCH Court graduation and there have been between 75-80 women who have graduated, Thomas said.