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Batts is living in a halfway house and working in a restaurant kitchen. She's interested in doing some advocacy work for women in the sex trade when she gets out, she said. 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.

She and her husband, who was also convicted of sex trafficking, are no longer together. (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.

She answered a newspaper ad and soon found herself at a trailer in view of the giant neon tattoo shop gun in Spenard. The state does not generally charge individual sex workers now, prosecutors told me.

Batts and I briefly worked together at the Anchorage Daily News when she was a clerk and I was a young reporter in the mid-2000s.

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"What happened to the belief that America was built upon, that each man has the right to do what he wants to do with his own life as long as he does not interfere with his neighbor's pursuit of happiness? "It could be the woman wearing nice earrings sitting beside you at the coffee shop on her laptop, it could be the woman that is waiting for a bus somewhere," she said.

There are "john schools," programs that educate men who buy sex about how it hurts women.

Advocates, counselors and lawyers I talked to told me that women with histories of prostitution drift unnoticed in and out of the system.

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. I contacted her in jail and, over a few visits, she told me about her life and how she understood sex work in Alaska.

(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. Our conversations underscored what I heard from advocates and investigators: Many women involved in the sex trade come to it as victims of abuse and exploitation and, eventually, a few, like Amber, may become perpetrators of abuse or exploitation themselves.

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