Thursday, December 20, 2012

Diversion programs treat prostitutes as victims

Corpus Christi is developing a new diversion program for alleged prostitutes based on a similar, successful initiative in Dallas, the Corpus Christi Caller Times reported ("Corpus Christi police mull program to treat suspected prostitutes instead of jail them," Dec. 17). The story opened:
Police officers and health care providers soon will give prostitutes an option to get off the streets and find help.

Instead of jail time, law enforcement plan to work with county health care officials and judges to provide social services and health screens for people accused of prostitution.

Police Chief Floyd Simpson said the idea is modeled after a program he saw while working in Dallas, where police and medical staff set up mobile clinics in areas with the most prolific prostitution rates.

Known prostitutes were screened for diseases and offered options to find a legitimate job, go back to school, or receive mental health care instead of jail time.

"We're trying a different approach rather than just arresting them again and again," he said.
The news was welcomed by the Caller Times editorial board, which concluded:
The shifting attitude of law enforcement is a welcome about-face from the hard line encouraged by a state law passed in 2001 allowing felony prison time for a third prostitution conviction. All that did was clog the system at a high cost. The Simpson/Dallas solution is compassionate but also pragmatic.

As Jason Boland says in his song about a stripper, "it's all about the money," and society saves a lot of it by not arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating. The American-Statesman's Mike Ward reported last summer that incarceration in a state prison for a year costs $18,538, or $15,500 in a lower-security state jail, but enrolling the prostitute in a community-based program for a year costs $4,300.

That's a simple equation that tough-on-crime sticklers should take into consideration: Treating prostitutes as criminals costs quadruple the price of helping them rejoin society.

There's something poetic in those mathematics, considering that society's treatment of them as throwaway people is what pushed most of them into their unfortunate circumstance in the first place.

This is a rare case where turning around one life makes the whole program worthwhile on at least three levels — heart, soul and pocketbook.
Such programs are a welcome change from the sorts of anti-prostitution stings we usually see, like the one recently reported by WOAI in San Antonio. That story quoted a business owner in the area where SAPD conducted labor-intensive undercover stings last month, and "while he is glad the activity has recently slowed down he said it won't last." “It's usually a temporary thing that it slows down for awhile when I guess the cops get tough on them and then it starts all over again,” he said, presciently.

It's been said a definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result; to the extent that's the case, the traditional law enforcement approaches to prostitution are clearly insane. So it's great that Dallas has pioneered a service-based approach to prostitution diversion, and I'm glad to see other jurisdictions are considering following their lead.

At the Legislature, a quick check finds three bills filed so far related to prostitution: HB 32 by Menendez is an enhancement for pimps, as though passing harsher laws ever succeeded at eliminating the "oldest profession." And HB 90 by Senfronia Thompson would create broad civil liability for pimps, an approach which to me seems laughable given that most all of them would likely be judgment proof.

The only bill so far building on the Dallas diversion model is HB 91 by Rep. Thompson, which would create a "pre-adjudication diversion program" for juvenile prostitutes, mirroring the approach Dallas and Corpus Christi are pursuing. Grits sees no reason to limit such a approach to juveniles, but that bill would be a good start.

10 comments:

jimbino said...

The whole premise is wrong. Prostitutes are contributing members of society, especially for this single guy who knows so many single breeding females sitting home getting EITC, child tax credit, housing allowance, medicaid, etc, ad nauseam.

Half my local tax dollars go to the support kiddies and the wreckage of marriages. What's antisocial is all the marriage and breeding, not prostitution. I never pay a cent to support a prostitute unless she's doing something positive for me. Of course, to the extent she gets breeders' welfare (since she can't report income) she is also a drain on society.

Fortunately, the gummints of other countries, like Canada, Germany and Brazil realize the contribution prostitutes make to society.

Force Majeure said...

Obviously jimbino is either a communist or a libertarian or both and will be brought down by fire from Heaven at Christmas.

I have skeptical enthusiasm for the prostitute program but the shortage and low pay of entry-level jobs may be a barrier.

Arce said...

The solution to prostitution is to prosecute the johns. Pass a law allowing forfeiture of any vehicle used to solicit the services of a prostitute. If the demand dries up, the market will go away. Imagine if the photos of the johns and their license plate numbers were published in the local paper every week.

Anonymous said...

Who victimized the girls who later end up in this profession? How were these girls trated in their neighborhoods where gang rape is the preferred activity of the gang bangers? Those who defend the criminal and the crimal lifestyle don't want to ever consider this.

Lee said...

Scott,

They do not do that on the street anymore.

http://houston.backpage.com/FemaleEscorts/

Anonymous said...

It's not just the gang bangers. These girls (the ones who later become prostitutes) were mistreated in their homes. The bangers just take advantage of this and do everything they can to finish destroying these girls. They have no respect for females and will attack the little girls who live in the hood and who want to join their gang (the most powerful institution in the hood).

Anonymous said...

How about a program that goes after the low life "hip-hop" pimps who victimize women and treat them as property. Unfortunately and sadly our society is perfectly OK with a culture that believes women exist solely to be "bitches" that are supposed to go make their "pimp" money or get beat up. If you don't believe this take a look at the lyrics of numerous chart topping hip-hop songs that made record sales proliferating such beliefs over the last 10 years. If that doesn't convince you, take a look at all the human trafficking from Mexico and other Countries and the scum here on stateside that will readily pay to have sex with such victims.

Ironically our president who is in the best position to stand against such decay continues to be silent and look the other way.

Anonymous said...

From "The Hill" 12/21/12

Senate resolution tells Village Voice to take down 'adult entertainment' section
By Ramsey Cox - 12/21/12

The Senate passed a resolution Thursday night that calls on the newspaper Village Voice “to act as a responsible global citizen” by taking down its “adult entertainment” section of its classified advertising website.

Lawmakers said that website, Backpage.com, ends up promoting child sex trafficking in the United States.

“The numbers are rising, in part because it has become frighteningly simple to order a child prostitute on the Internet.

Susan Hays said...

I've been to the Dallas prostitution court 'graduation' for the ladies who have completed the program. Better than any church service I've ever been to. Better speeches from the triumphant and now-proud ladies than I've ever heard from any politician. More honesty about the human condition than I've seen in any policy analysis or news report. The Legislature is foolish to not be investing in this approach (And I say 'not be' because most diversion programs are funding by outside grant sources -- not the regular appropriations of the county or the state.)

Heywood Jablowmy said...

Why is a whore a victim?