Concerned Sex worker rights activists were made aware of the Houston based ‘We’ve Been There Done That’ ‘prostitution rehabilitation program’ ran by a woman by the name of Kathryn Griffin, thanks to the controversy surrounding the now canceled reality TV show ‘8 Minutes’.
8 Minutes was a reality show about an ex cop turned pastor who was claiming to be rescuing sex trafficking victims. 8 Minutes had been set to air on A&E for three seasons but was thankfully canceled before the first season was finished.
During the end credits of 8 Minutes the production offers a thank you to a list of agencies and Kathryn Griffin’s name is on the list, along with the Harris County Sheriffs department her employer. Kathryn Griffin was also specifically mentioned in one of the contrived scenes during an episode of 8 Minutes:
A bit of background:
8 Minutes was a human rights disaster that had sex worker rights activists, sex workers, sex worker allies and even various anti trafficking organizations up in arms over the obvious exploitation of sex workers who were being filmed for content for the show.
For a moment there, various people and organizations who were normally on ‘opposing sides‘ of the issue of prostitution actually agreed on something: 8 Minutes was NOT a good thing and for a long list of reasons. Before the first episode had aired there was a flurry of petitions and opposition to the show.
The show was based on the narrative that Pastor Kevin Brown an ex police officer (who admits to previously hating prostitutes) and a team of ‘advocates’ (we use that term loosely here) had 8 minutes to convince alleged victims of sex trafficking to ‘leave the life’.
Thing is- besides the questionable and unconstitutional activity of interfering with the private personal choices of consenting adults, they were hard pressed to locate actual ‘trafficking victims’. The production team were only finding consensual sex workers working of their own volition for a host of reasons ranging from economic strife and facing eviction, drug addiction, paying their way through school to be a doctor, to a sincere desire to engage in sex work as a means to earn a living.
In addition to the problem of not finding actual sex trafficking victims to film (a questionable and bizarre thing to do any way you look at it) allegations quickly arose that the show’s narrative was actually a ruse as they had not followed through with services promised, such as housing and employment assistance which had been presented within the show’s narrative as the means by which they were helping the women to ‘leave the life’. Once these allegations surfaced, sex workers all over the United States, Canada and Europe worked together to further expose 8 Minutes and within weeks the show was canceled by A&E.
It seems that Pastor Kevin Brown, his advocates or rather the CAST (D’Lita Miller, Lexi Smith, Stephanie Lange) and others involved in the production of 8 Minutes had hoped the show would be a flagship for their projects and business ventures connected to the ‘rescue industry‘ (the name that sex worker rights activists have dubbed the exponentially growing non profit industrial complex which has grown up around prostitution arrests in the last decade)
The flagship was sunk and the show proved to be more of an allegory for the failed rescue industry (which includes diversion programs), an industry where the talk doesn’t match the reality of what services are truly available to people who have been arrested, trafficked or who may want to exit the erotic services industry for whatever reason. The rescue industry may be a failure to sex workers and sex trafficking victims but it has proven to be quite the meal ticket for various government agencies, NGO’s, and individuals operating within the ‘rescue industry’.
Now, back to Kathryn Griffin and the diversion program ‘we’ve been there done that':
Kathryn Griffin and her employer Harris County Sheriffs Department was the primary Houston based program related to prostitution willing to be involved with the show 8 Minutes.
WHO is Kathryn Griffin?
Why is she facilitating a program for arrested sex workers?
What are her qualifications?
An excerpt from an AP story published in 2013 states:
“Kathryn Griffin Grinan — a former prostitute who now dons a business suit and heels as she transforms her nonprofit, We’ve Been There Done That, into a taxpayer-funded program that is teaming up with law enforcement and the court system to reform these women.”
“Adopted at birth, Griffin had a 28-year-old boyfriend at age 14. Two years later, she found herself among the youngest in a Houston college, racing to keep up with the drugs, alcohol and sex. In 1983, she joined funk singer Rick James’ drug-infused “Cold Blooded” tour, developing a $30,000-a-month cocaine habit.
When the tour ended and the drugs disappeared, Griffin turned to prostitution — from call girl to mistress and finally to doped-up street hooker — to pay for the habit. After entering and failing nearly two dozen drug rehab programs, Griffin got clean 10 years ago through Houston’s drug court. From that she learned what worked, and understood what didn’t, and she tailor made a curriculum for prostitutes.”
Kathryn Griffin experienced drug addiction, worked as a prostitute, got arrested and went through the system. After going through the system she learned what worked and what didn’t (what exactly does that mean?) and SHE made a curriculum for other prostitutes and the city of Houston thought this was a wonderful thing? Based on WHAT?! How did DRUG COURT succeed where actual REHAB did not?
Or…..was it that Kathryn Griffin saw a way to manipulate the system to support herself and her own agenda as many others in the ‘rescue industry’ have done, By exploiting the criminalization of prostitution, in particular arrested prostitutes and their life circumstances to do it?
While experience is important, while consulting with sex workers and trafficking victims should be considered a vital part of any process connected to sex workers and trafficking victims, how did merely going through the system herself qualify Kathryn Griffin to oversee a diversion program such as ‘we’ve been there done that’?
Did she finish college? Did she get a degree? Did she learn about what is called ‘best practices’ as in, the best way to facilitate recovery, healing and practices around how sex workers and or trafficking victims are to be treated, especially people in a very delicate emotional circumstance? How about an education around ethics?
Kathryn herself often says she has a PhD in life, though she doesn’t seem to have any formal education around counseling, social work or psychology let alone ‘best practices’. This becomes painfully clear when we look deeper into how she conducts herself as the facilitator of ‘we’ve been there done that’ her non profit which quickly became a tax payer funded program.
What exactly are diversion programs? How do they actually function?
The narratives that are used to promote diversion programs to tax payers claim that something good is being done to assist arrested defendants towards a positive change in their lives, but what it truly amounts to, is the extortion of arrested sex workers and an attempt at ‘reprogramming’ people to accept that their personal choices to engage in sex work (buying or selling) are wrong and shameful.
A very important thing to consider here, there is no evidence based science to back up that these court ordered, sex negative, shame based programs actually work in preventing prostitution (buying OR selling sex).
Since a prostitution record will prove to be extremely problematic resulting in housing and employment discrimination (FYI in some states convicted prostitutes are also forced to register as sex offenders) there is a strong incentive for defendants arrested for prostitution to not have their names listed as convicted prostitutes. This is how people are coerced into a diversion program.
Diversion programs come with a host of problems such as having no governmental oversight whatsoever.
Diversion programs are often open ended (oftentimes there is no set time frame such as when the program will end or how long ‘classes’ should last during a given day or how long someone will have to remain in the program).
In a diversion program it is presumed that the women have had bad experiences and they are often asked to tell about these bad experiences to men they don’t know (who were arrested for purchasing sex), but then are also told that these experiences happened to them because they were sex workers (a confusing mixture of you are a victim whether you believe it or not but it’s still all your fault methodology).
Sex workers who have attended diversion programs after arrest have stated things such as they were made to write essays as to why sex work was bad for them (even when they didn’t agree with this assertion), how they resented having to write disingenuous essays just to pass the program and how they found this to be dehumanizing.
Attending a diversion program is an adjunct to a criminal court proceeding, and makes it so that the women will not be prosecuted for working as prostitutes.
This is a violation of civil rights in that the state has assumed itself to be the highest authority over the private personal choices of consenting adults, many who shouldn’t have been arrested in the first place.
One of the reasons so many people were angry about 8 Minutes was due to the lack of ethics and ‘best practices’ involved in the show. The women involved were human beings who deserved better than being made sensationalistic fodder. Their identities were not always being protected to the highest degree, and there were many other questionable circumstances and actions.
Looking into Kathryn Griffin’s online media related to ‘we’ve been there done that’, the tax payer funded program she heads- It’s not surprising that Kathryn Griffin was excited to attach her name to the 8 Minutes production despite the long list of questionable and unethical activities connected to the show; 8 Minutes was a way for her to propel herself into the spotlight. Kathryn Griffin likes being the center of attention.
Kathryn Griffin apparently wants to be famous. She had a taste of celebrity working with the Rick James tour, and now she’s doing the ‘rescue industry tour’ so to speak.
She has appeared on the Dr. Drew show and the Steve Wilkos Show (which is nothing more than a Jerry Springer knock off) and she constantly creates opportunities to be highlighted in the Houston media for her work with arrested sex workers, and often at the arrested sex workers expense.
You will find numerous articles about Kathryn and her program where photos show the identities of the women involved. Not only could this prove to be dangerous for some of the women, it is an unethical practice in such a context any way you look at it.
By sharing photos which expose the identities of those who are court ordered while being prosecuted for prostitution- this puts the women in a situation where they could be extorted via threat to be further exposed, harassed and even sexually harassed. Exposing the identities of the women in her program is a danger to the women and in a variety of ways.
Kathryn even has them wearing t-shirts at public events with media present, T-shirts which they themselves paid for, they are walking billboards advertising that they are participants in a prostitution ‘rehab’ program. This in and of itself is a form of exploitation (click on pictures to enlarge):
Kathryn Griffin Grinan is married to a Houston news anchor which no doubt has been helpful in promoting her agenda and her reputation. Kathryn’s good friend is recently retired Sheriff Adrian Garcia who is now running for Mayor in Houston.
Many of the current participants in her program were likely arrested and or incarcerated under Garcia before he chose to retire as Sheriff to run for Mayor. Regardless, Kathryn Griffin has been using the women in her tax payer funded program ‘we’ve been there done that’ to help Adrian Garcia’s political campaign. This became evident observing Facebook profiles connected to Kathryn Griffin and her program.
One of the women who was arrested for prostitution and who subsequently entered the program has since become Kathryn’s right hand, a woman named Matilda Perez. Both the Kathryn Griffin Grinan and Matilda Perez Facebook accounts are filled with photos showing the ‘we’ve been there done that’ participants campaigning for Adrian Garcia:
It is important to note, that many women arrested for prostitution are basically forced into these unregulated programs. When you lack funds for an attorney, don’t know your rights, or don’t know how to navigate the system, and without a real advocate, arrested defendants believe they have no choice but to enter such a program or face jail time. It benefits Kathryn to have as many heads in her program as possible, because each person equates to more FUNDING.
While in a diversion program, if the the facilitator/administrator (in this instance Kathryn Griffin) asks for your participation in an activity such as campaigning for her friend Adrian Garcia, and during the diversion program time frame, what are you going to do? Tell her no? In such an instance it could be said that she has a figurative gun to the persons head. Getting on Kathryn’s bad side might not be good for your case. How? Kathryn (or whomever might be facilitating such a diversion program) can report negatives to the judge residing over a defendants case. Since there are no set boundaries such as we would find with community service probation programs, the administrator can choose to hold a defendant in the program indefinitely.
Based on Kathryn Griffin’s and Matilda Perez’s facebook accounts, Kathryn Griffin took participants in her program over to the Juneteenth event to campaign for Adrian Garcia.
Clearly Kathryn Griffin and Adrian Garcia have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship.
We must ask ourselves what Kathryn Griffin has to gain if Adrian Garcia wins the election for Houston Mayor.
What do the women in the we’ve been there done that program stand to gain from helping Adrian Garcia’s campaign? How does it benefit them? How is this considered ‘treatment’?
These circumstances highlight a number of the serious problems involved with every diversion program.
There is no governmental or non governmental oversight of prostitution diversion programs.
There is no grievance process set up, not only to protect the interests of those participating but a grievance process which allows diversion program participants to safely report any issues they might experience in the program.
There is no accountability.
Abuses in court ordered programs such as prostitution rehab programs are common and rarely reported because those who are forced into these programs fear for their well being, they fear for what might happen were they to go against people who have authority to any degree regarding their precarious legal circumstances.
Based on her own comments Kathryn Griffin doesn’t really identify and empathize with sex workers let alone sex trafficking victims. Kathryn Griffin exposes her callous attitude towards sex workers in the buzzfeed article where she infers that the sex workers involved with the 8 Minutes production simply wanted a free handout. Why does she think sex workers are working doing sex work in the first place? They are trying to feed, house and support themselves and oftentimes their families.
According to various online articles and reports which erupted around the 8 Minutes controversy, the 8 Minutes production had coaxed the women into filming with promises of housing and employment assistance; but in the end the 8 Minutes team left them hanging out to dry, pushing them into more desperate circumstances than previous to their contact with the 8 Minutes crew.
It seems that Kathryn Griffin might be a bit miffed that her chance to be in the nationwide spotlight via 8 Minutes was ruined by the sex workers who spoke out about being lied to by 8 Minutes. Kathryn was certainly A-OK with the exploitation of sex workers during the filming of 8 Minutes. By the time Kathryn would’ve been contacted by any of those women, it’s no wonder they were asking for assistance with rent. The rent must be paid with or without an income, doesn’t Kathryn understand this?
How is needing to prevent homelessness something to mock a person for? But coming from a woman who wears Chanel shoes as she facilitates a program for women who are one step away from homelessness or jail, what can we expect? Kathryn Griffin is living large but wanting to pay your rent after no luck finding work and wanting to avoid doing sex work (as in the case of some of the women filmed for 8 Minutes) is somehow beyond Kathryn’s understanding.
What are her qualifications to operate a prostitution diversion program again?
Kathryn has a hustle. Her hustle is all about putting herself out into the public eye presenting herself as a do-gooder in the name of rehabilitating arrested prostitutes- an effective narrative, but based on her online media it is clear that she has no regard for the well being and safety of the women in her program. One shouldn’t need a PhD to understand the circumstances involved, such as the need to protect the identities of the women in her program. Obviously, she is more than willing to exploit people in her program to forward her need to be in the spotlight as well as exploiting them in behalf of Adrian Garcia’s campaign for Mayor.
Why isn’t anyone in the local Houston government noticing her unethical behaviors? Such as the current mayor and other city officials?
Are arrested sex workers so objectified that they are not human beings with human rights?
As a matter of fact, this is what sex workers say is exactly the case.
Another example of Kathryn exposing the women’s faces/identities to promote her program:
Buzzfeed articles related to both 8 Minutes and Kathryn Griffin:
Claims she has 2,700 clients:
Article that says she only has 40 clients who have been court ordered to her program:
Question: what is the actual number of people who have attended her program? In the above video the number is 1000. Yet in the above linked buzzfeed article it is 2,700. or is it 40 as quoted in the above Texas article? PLEASE make up your mind!
Other articles on Kathryn Griffin:
Exposing the ‘victims’ faces ISNT treating the women as victims
she claims MANY of the women she is working with are trafficked- so why didn’t the 8 Minutes production find any sex trafficked women to film for the show in Houston? Because, as Kathryn knows, the majority of sex workers are NOT trafficked.
Questionable practices regarding 8 Minutes previous sizzle reel prior to 8 minutes filming:
Articles covering why 8 Minutes was a horrible idea:
Exposing the women’s identities while raising funds: http://www.gofundme.com/twj27c
To contact the author-administrator email:
(No human involved is what police would write on reports when they would find murdered sex workers. NHI)