Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Should prostitutes be protected or prosecuted?

Are prostitutes criminals or victims? Or might the correct answer be "both"? And if it's "both," what should be the relationship of law enforcement to workers in the sex trade - should they seek to prosecute or protect them? Those questions are raised by an interesting program established by the Dallas Police Department known as the Prostitution Diversion Initiative (PDI). According to the Dallas News ("Dallas police to collect DNA from prostitutes," Nov. 3):

The Dallas Police Department plans to start collecting DNA samples from truck-stop prostitutes on a voluntary basis to help identify the women if they are later reported missing, comatose or murdered.

The unprecedented endeavor is scheduled to begin early next year as a new phase of the department's 2-year-old Prostitution Diversion Initiative, which offers prostitutes a chance at rehabilitation, often as part of a criminal sentence.

It comes as authorities nationwide are increasingly working together and with the FBI to solve hundreds of murders along major highways that are thought to be committed by serial killers working as truckers.

Dubbed the High Risk Potential Victims' DNA Database, it will be funded and maintained by the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification in Fort Worth.

"These women who are essentially working a lot of these truck stops, they are ... high risk to be killed, to disappear," said Arthur J. Eisenberg, co-director of the UNT center.

He hopes the database eventually will be nationwide.

For Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle, the DNA plan is a logical extension of the philosophy of the DPD prostitute diversion program, which is that prostitutes ought to be treated as victims.

Dallas is taking a novel approach to prostitution, as evidenced by this description of the program:
The Prostitute Diversion Initiative (PDI) was developed by the Dallas Police Department (DPD) in collaboration with multiple organizations to address this increasing problem of street prostitution. Instead of treating prostitutes as criminals, the DPD would approach them as victims, offering an opportunity for prostitutes to gain access to a comprehensive and multi-step in-patient and out-patient treatment program as an alternative to further victimization and continued involvement in the criminal justice system. Recognizing that violence and substance abuse outcomes characteristic of this vulnerable subgroup are points of common interest for criminal justice systems, social services, and public health, the PDI capitalizes on the participation of a broad range of organizations with multi-disciplinary expertise and key resources to understand the causes of high risk behaviors and ultimately inform more effective ways to reduce associated crime. Included in this collaboration are the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, Dallas County Health Department, Parkland Hospital, courts, and Homeward Bound which takes the lead for over 45 social service and faith-based organizations. The overall goal is to provide those individuals engaged in prostitution, should they choose, a complete exit strategy from the sex trade industry.
According to the PDI annual report (pdf), "More than 1,100 individuals, both men and women, have been identified by Dallas Police as engaging in prostitution at four major truck stops along the I-20 corridor." What's more, "Last year, 3,342 prostitution arrests were made in Dallas county alone," but those arrests didn't make a dent in the problem because they merely moved "the visible foot traffic from the streets into the big rigs. This unexpected result from conventional enforcement illustrates how prostitutes are able to quickly adapt to the environment and frustrate law enforcement." The county last year created a specialized prostitution court to handle these cases and administer the program.

At the end of the day, says Dallas PD, the strategy of arresting and jailing prostitutes hasn't reduced the problem. "Many, if not all, arrests resulted in only a temporary solution, due in part to the turnaround time of these types of offenses. Since prostitution is considered a minor offense, these offenders are one of the first to be released from overcrowded jails, essentially creating a revolving door to which prostitutes would return upon release to the only environment and option they believe they have for survival."

It's too early to judge whether this program works better than an enforcement-only approach, since "It is understood that the process for a successful exit from a life of prostitution is long term and could take years for each participant. There may also be those that will require them to be dependent on services for the rest of their life." Of course, those in jail are 100% dependent on government services.

The annual report also included results from a survey of 175 Dallas prostitutes. Here are some of the highlights.
Summary of Findings Demographics
  • Current ages of participants ranged from 19-59 years old, with an average of 37 years.
  • Sixty-seven percent of participants were African American
  • Half completed at least a high school education or GED
  • Nearly seventy percent were mothers
Physical Health Problems
  • Over half of participants tested positive for a STD
  • Five new HIV cases were identified
  • Twenty-three percent of participants reported high blood pressure
  • Approximately ten percent of participants reported asthma and seizures
  • One participant was currently using a colostomy bag
  • Four of the participants reported having cancer
Mental Health Disorders
  • Sixty one percent of participants reported having a mental health condition
  • Nearly twenty percent of participants reported having more than one mental health condition
  • One third of participants reported major depression and bipolar disorder
  • Twenty percent of participants have attempted suicide
  • Thirteen percent of participants reported having schizophrenia
  • Nearly three-quarters of participants were diagnosed on Axis I (DSM criteria)
  • Over half of participants received diagnoses on multiple axes (DSM criteria)
City Courts
  • Seventy-nine percent of participants had citations pending warrant status
  • In total, there were 4,397 citations pending warrant status
  • Outstanding warrant fines totaled $1,979,109
  • Six year back log on citations being signed into warrants
Outcomes
  • Fifty four percent of participants were eligible for immediate diversion to treatment services
  • Over half of those participants eligible opted for treatment
  • Of those participants entering into the program, nineteen percent completed the initial recovery phase
  • Seventy-six percent of participants entering PDI outside the night of initiative completed the initial recovery phase
  • Of those participants completing the initial recovery phase, 90% have not returned to the street
  • Twenty one participants were repeaters to the PDI
  • All of the repeaters to the PDI have relapsed

31 comments:

gng said...

That's an average of $11,309 per person. How could a street prostitute possibly be expected to pay that? Hefty fines as a penalty for a crime of economic desperation make no sense.

sunray's wench said...

In answer to the question you pose right at the start, neither. Unless you are flat out stating that a woman does not have the right to do with her own body as she chooses, prostitution is a moral and not a legal issue, imo.

Pirate Rothbard said...

Sunray, I agree with you for once.

And besides, don't all women marry men partly(or mainly) because the man will be a good provider? So these women are just doing what all other women do.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Pirate I thought I was marrying for financial security. I thought anyone with that many bills has to make a lot of money. (he was a cop) I was fooled and 33 years later I am still happily married.(to an ex cop)
We still have no money, but you are right there are many women only looking for the money. I was just not one of them.
Cathy

Pirate Rothbard said...

Your right, in this day and age many women are not in it for the money. Sometimes men are in it for the money. And it is very common now for women to make more than their spouse. My mistake.

But money still comes into play. If you're a woman and you decide to be the breadwinner, you have to decide "how much am I willing to pay for this boytoy?"

Anonymous said...

The answer is the same as with drugs; legalize it. But that will never happen.

kaptinemo said...

As someone who spent a lot of time in The Netherlands courtesy of military service, I could never understand why we could not adopt some of the aspects of Dutch Law regarding prostitution. They had vastly less problems than we do regarding the issue. It's licensed, the girls are checked regularly for health reasons, condoms are mandatory, and as a result there's far less in the way of social problems than we have here. It's not Utopia, but it's better than the way we deal with the problem, if only because of the financial cost of prohibiting it.

Economically we're facing the same kind of 'lost decade' that Japan faced in the 1990's, worse than what we experienced in the 1970's with the 'malaise'. It's triage time, and this country has to decide as to what we can afford to spend increasingly dwindling taxpayer's dollars on. I daresay we have much better things to do with them than use them to roust sex trade workers.

Anonymous said...

The bigger question raised by this article is:

If your prostitute has a colostomy bag, do you still go through with the transaction?

Acerbic said...

kaptinemo,

Agreed. It is just stupid to think that the United States will forever be the most powerful country in the world in terms of finance and military. We simply cannot compete with countries like China and India with their billions of cheap labor workers. We need to start facing that fact and get real about our future survival.

We need to use the assets we have to gain an edge over less developed countries to stay competitive in a global economy or risk becoming a relic, failed nation.

When other countries have universal health care and other means of keeping their citizens productive, instead of driving them into poverty and jailing them for being being poor, it's time we took a hard look at our fundemental values.

These same forces responsible for our economic collapse are the ones shouting the loudest about government control but they really don't want freedom of anything but their own self-interests.

If we legalized prostitution and drugs and taxed it our economy would explode with wealth. But that would cut out the thieving, lying bastards who cause all the problems now.

No, they don't want freedom and liberty. They want to keep making a buck at everyone else's expense.

Jennie said...

Thank you Anonymous! I thought no one else even saw that.

And one more - why would someone with a colostomy bag think they could do a trick? Well, unless it is just ... and not the full thing.

Anonymous said...

I was told the voluntary DNA collection program now run alongside the other diversion and treatment options in Dallas is designed to assist with an FBI investigation of serial murderers driving trucks and committing murder (often prostitutes) along highways across the US.

Any pitch for wise resource use has to include focusing on serial murderers over the victims (in this case the Dallas area prostitutes) and minor offenses committed by victims of violent crime.

Anonymous said...

$5.00 and some crack me love you long time.Sad but true. Houston,Texas.

Boyness said...

Prostitution should be legal.

sunray's wench said...

Pirate ~ If I were in it for the money, I would not have married Hubby!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Kap, legalize it, tax it, and provide sexual protection. When is the US going to get off it's high horse and realize the sex and weed are never going to go away and find a way to tax/regulate it and give the tax payers a break.

Acerbic said...

I had a guy tell me once if we legalized drugs everyone would become a heroine addict and be too lazy to work and our country would fail because it would be filled with people sitting on their ass shooting up all day instead of being "productive".

People like this have no clue about the functional drug addicts who surround them. Chances are quite a few of the people in your social circle have some kind of drug addiction and manage to keep it hidden while being very productive.

The heroine dealers around Wall Street know all too well who has the habit and needs it to hold down their job. The whole premise would be laughable if it wasn't true.

Anonymous said...

Lock them up! Get them off the streets. They are all criminals! Manny

Anonymous said...

the colostomy bag ain't that bad, it can be hidden...but would you want to spend any time with the crazies?

Anonymous said...

oh...and to houston...around here it's buy her a hamburger, giver her $5, and....

Anonymous said...

I find it strange that it is reported as a minor offense, however, it is not a minor offense for the 'john'. He usually gets a misdemeanor sex charge and goes on the registry for 10 to 20 years. How "minor" is ruining someone's life?

Personally I believe that most prostitutes should be handled just like their customers. throw them in jail, embarrass the hell out of he,. put their face on the web site and make them go through the classes. Victim? pfft, hardly.

Pirate Rothbard said...

"Should prostitutes be protected or prosecuted?"

Grits leaves out a third option: should prostitutes be protected or persecuted or patronized?

Anonymous said...

Im sorry but all of you are so uneducated about prostitution I encurage you to go to the children if the night website and see how and at what age this starts. Our children are the victims and then they grow up and continue a lifestlye that is very degrading. As far as the John's are concerned they should be prosecuted and face put in the papers. For without them girls womenboys wouldnt be exploited for their sexual needs. Get educated!!

Pirate Rothbard said...

Nobody is saying it is ok to pay kids for prostitution.

Are you really saying that payments between consenting adults should be criminalized? If so, give a more detailed explanation.

Anonymous said...

Part 1

If you follow the 2 links below, you will see why we have CRIMINALIZED THESE WOMEN.
In the early 19Th century,women were not allowed to leave home until they married, marriage was a contract, a business agreement. Women could not go out in public alone, they could not own or even inherit property, they could not work, and it was legal for her husband to beat and rape her as she was HIS PROPERTY, and of course women couldn't vote.

Anonymous said...

Part 2
The 19Th century madam's had much to do with women's rights. The Mann act was created to stop white women from fraternizing with blacks. It had nothing to do with "White Slavery", in 1905 there were only 30 white women for every 2500 white men in the USA. The only form of White Slavery was MARRIAGE. Women had no voice until the MADAMS bought most of the land, invested in railroads and the coal industry and EMPOWERED THEMSELVES.
It seems they were smart enough to realize that ALL men & WOMEN negotiate for sex, whether through marriage and security, or dinner and drinks or cash by the hour, or even the one night stand that wakes up tries to ATTACH HERSELF TO YOUR LIFE.

Anonymous said...

Part 3
Somehow we have convinced most of society that all prostitutes are drug addicted street women. That they get what they deserve, and we use tax dollars to harass these desperate women and run them out of their own communities and then the cops brag about it in the media.
The worst part is we ENCOURAGE SOCIETY that HATE CRIMES against these women is OK, and we leave these women with No Sanction and Protection under the law and these women can not report crimes against themselves, therefore its makes them targets for serial killers and men who want to exploit them and even law enforcement who sometimes abuses them during arrest or while in custody and then we have the nerve to blame it on human trafficking and the only one being punished is the women.

Anonymous said...

Part 4
They are even creating JOHN school so men can walk away with no criminal record, but the women only get fines, jail time or warrants, they can no longer rent apartments, or get real jobs and there is no TALK of CREATING LONG TERM SERVICES FOR THE WOMEN WHO DO WANT TO EXIT THE INDUSTRY.
Now bill HR 5575 is trying to get 100's of millions from congress to house TEENS UNDER 20, that runaway with PIMPS. Even though each county already has a whole juvenile court system, child protective services with foster homes, detention center, boot camps and reform schools, but THEY CLAIM THERE IS NOWHERE TO HOUSE THESE TEENS, and the teens are sent right back to the families to run away again. But the money will be spent on THE MORAL WITCH HUNT AGAINST CONSENTING ADULTS IN PRIVATE. To STALK ONLINE ESCORTS.

Anonymous said...

Part 5
The FBI is now doing vice nationwide to arrest adult escorts who met in private with another consenting adult. Many time these women are arrested without soliciting anyone for an illegal act, they are arrested just for posting advertisements for escort services. They want to open a whole new division of the IRS just to seize our assets.
In 2010 they found a 55 year old escort in CT WHO had 30,000 in cash and over 600,000 in her bank and they legally stole her lives savings, everything she had worked for for the past 20 or 30 years.
What was her crime, other then she negotiated for sex differently than modern day marriages. Modern day marriages do not work out well for women who get left by the spouse with 3 kids to feed and then they have to track the father down for child support.

Anonymous said...

Part 6

http://www.alternet.org/books/148327/how_19th_century_prostitutes_were_among_the_freest,_wealthiest,_most_educated_women_of_their_time/

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/26/on-the-records-a-well-preserved-roadmap-to-perdition/

Look at how we waste our tax dollars stalking adults trying to control their private sex lives. Is this all the compassion we can muster for desperate women who are just one step away from being homeless in the midst of the worst recession of the century.
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20022172-504083.html

Anonymous said...

Part 7
In closing In Rhode Island indoor prostitution was legal from 1979 til Nov 2009 (when the law enforcement insisted without this new law they could not investigate human trafficking) they never had a problem not one case of human trafficking, the spa's paid taxes, the women who worked there spend their money in the local businesses and we even caught he craigslist killer because after he killed the women in Boston he came to RI and robbed a escort and she dialed 911 and reported it because she had PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW. Now we have a serial killer burying escorts in Long Island,and Canada had 300 escorts murdered in the past 20 years and have thrown out all their laws criminalizing these women in order to PROTECT THEM.
Sadly in RI they ran front page news articles of how sad it was that you could buy sex in the spa just a block from city hall, but the cops never BOTHERED to check every-ones ID in the spa to make sure they were adults and in the country legally.

Anonymous said...

Part 8
This is clearly a MORAL WITCH HUNT and when we investigated human trafficking advocates we found most have been collecting donations for victims for years and have not provided any services to the victims, instead they spend the money touring the country lying to the media about how many kids are being exploited and harassing craigslist in the media and getting the cops to STALK ONLINE ESCORTS.
See more at http://theproviderpage.com/news/TheProviderPage-News.php