Support the Café

Search our Site

Reaching out to the prostitutes of Nashville

Reaching out to the prostitutes of Nashville

NPR profiles Magdalene House, a private residential rehab center for women who’ve been arrested for prostitution and drug addiction.

Nashville arrested more than 1,100 people for prostitution and solicitation last year. Maybe someday Messina will decide she wants to go straight and clean up. And if she does, there’s a program in Nashville that can help. It’s called Magdalene.

It was founded in 1997 by Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest who grew up in Nashville and who had been abused as a child. Magdalene is a two-year private residential rehab center for women with criminal histories of prostitution and drug addiction.

Over the years, Magdalene has graduated more than 150 women and has raised about $12 million in private funds.

Magdalene offers an intensified program of housing, counseling and training, based on a 12-step model. Women stay free for the two years they’re there. It is becoming a national model for others trying to help women trapped by prostitution.

Magdalene also helps run “john schools….”

…aimed at educating male clients who are arrested for hiring prostitutes about various aspects of prostitution. Only first-time offenders may enroll.

“A john could be anyone,” says Kenneth Baker, a counselor who volunteers to run the john school. “You know one of them.” Each john pays about $300, and then gets his record expunged if it’s a first-time offense. All proceeds go to Magdalene, and last year the program contributed $100,000.

Magdalene sends former prostitutes to talk to the program to confront the men who paid for sex.


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dcn Scott Elliott

So it is with all supply-side economics.


Magdalene House, a private residential rehab center for women who’ve been arrested for prostitution and drug addiction.

…which is great. But immediately begs the question of young men who have the same history.

From the story, re a john:

a father of a 3-year-old. “I never once thought that they [prostitutes] weren’t people,” the father tells NPR. “It was just a supply-and-a-demand thing. I was demanding something, and they were the supplier. It’s up to them to change it.”

Chilling. What is he teaching his 3 year-old (should he be allowed to continue that custody)?!

JC Fisher


The Rev. Stevens and two of her program’s graduates were part of our “Making Disciples” Conference in the Diocese of Missouri last year. Their presentations were so powerful that they were the tipping points for our diocese to start our own program.

I would recommend to anyone that they look into what they are doing in Nashville and see what is possible. In order to make the loaves and fishes to feed a multitude, we just need to pray for grace and then give it away.

Kevin McGrane

Bill Dilworth

That’s wonderful; I hope the idea spreads. (I was going to say that I hoped it would branch out to include hustlers, but that’s probably already covered by Covenant House’s work with homeless youth.)

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café