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Dallas Police Aim To Help, Not Jail, Prostitutes

Dallas Police Aim To Help, Not Jail, Prostitutes

A woman arrested for prostitution is taken for processing at a mobile command unit that includes health and social services as part of an intervention program in Dallas. (AP Photo)

The AP via YellowBrix

January 05, 2010

It was nearly midnight in a cramped mobile courtroom in the back of an 18-wheeler, and a prostitute in a Tweety Bird shirt was apologizing to a judge for falling asleep during her hearing.

She hadn’t slept for three days and was coming down from a crack high, she explained. The combination left her too impaired to make a choice that only Dallas offers prostitutes: Go to rehab or go to jail.

With those options, the city is taking a new approach to the world’s oldest profession. Police treat prostitutes as sex crime victims, offering many a chance to clean up and get off the streets.

The program’s advocates acknowledge its success has been limited — about half of the 375 women have chosen rehab, and just 21 have turned their lives around. But authorities say they’re gaining the women’s trust and have gotten leads on unsolved crimes.

The program could soon spread beyond Dallas. More than 200 law enforcement agents from the U.S. and Canada attended the National Prostitution Diversion conference here in November. Since then, groups from Edmonton, Atlanta and Fort Worth have asked for more information about the program.

Related: Photo Gallery >>>

“We are the pioneers, I suppose,” said Renee Breazeale, program director for Homeward Bound, a nonprofit detoxification and counseling center in Dallas. “It’s the only police-led program and represents a change of culture for law enforcement.”

The program starts with a monthly roundup of prostitutes in an area health officials consider the national epicenter of syphilis. Dallas vice police have identified more than 1,300 prostitutes working four truck stops serve that more than 2,000 big rigs a day.

“Truckers were conducting counter-surveillance for prostitutes,” Dallas police Sgt. Louis Felini said. “They let them use CB radios to advertise prostitution and drugs. As soon as a squad car entered the lot, every truck driver along I-20 knew how many cops and where they were.”

Arresting prostitutes accomplished little. Many considered going to jail part of the cost of doing business and were back at the truck stops within 48 hours, Felini said.

Deciding to try something new, he found five of the worst-off women spots in Homeward Bound. All eventually gave up prostitution, and Felini had an idea.

“If we were able to do that for the worst of the worst, then maybe we could do that on a much larger scale,” he said.

His brainstorm became the Prostitution Diversion Initiative. Police set up a staging area once a month in a vacant lot near the truck stops. Four mobile command trucks surround folding tables and chairs where social service workers set up shop. The action usually begins about 7 p.m. and runs until 3 a.m.

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Video Coverage of the Incident >>>

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  • Sfa_iv_max50

    revCCBeasley

    over 4 years ago

    2944 Comments

    I believe its a very good effort...

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    hey let's give it a chance

  • Badge__hat_max50

    Baxter2

    over 4 years ago

    1846 Comments

    Rehabilitate hookers? It's called the oldest profession in the world for a reason......high demand and easy money.

  • Gcpoms_max50

    jakester

    over 4 years ago

    1148 Comments

    Hey my name is Big Government and I got an idea. Lets start a national health care program. We can then use the money we print to provide treatment for drug & alcohol abusers and sex addicts, counseling and job placement for prostitutes, child abusers, and the formerly incarcerated (ex-con is such a dirty and demeaning title).

    Of course, if your dearly beloved Grannie needs a knee or hip replacement she is gonna have to wait in line with the rest of the "semi-normal everyday run of the mill taxpayers" before she can get in to see her doctor for a referal to the Department of Lets See How Long We Can Put This Off For.

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50

    Whalewatcher

    over 4 years ago

    11194 Comments

    This sounds like the type of program that will need to be allowed some time to see if it will be successful. Hope everyone involved has the patience needed to make it work.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    This is a very interesting approach to this problem. I think it will take quite a while to gain the trust of these women, but once they start seeing results, more and more offenders may have a chance at a successful rehabilitation.

  • Native_clip_art_4_049_max50

    Sheriff_1

    over 4 years ago

    8024 Comments

    Going to be interesting to see what type results are achieved. Going to take time to develope database and look at effectiveness of a new concept.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    natasha74

    over 4 years ago

    604 Comments

    I think these chic need to go to Las Vegas, the chicken ranch would love to have more worthless gals like that. At less they will be off the streets..

  • New_dallasswat04_1280x1024_max50

    jepps309

    over 4 years ago

    490 Comments

    The 4 truck stops are in The South Central Division of Dallas.. That area is a war zone at its best...

  • Ba_old_glory_max50

    Jonas

    over 4 years ago

    42212 Comments

    I see nothing but trouble with this. It's illegal for many reasons.

  • 74596_129289523905506_927477597_n_max50

    CadetAK

    over 4 years ago

    3416 Comments

    Kudos for wanting to help women in this situation who unfortunately, were probably victims at one point or another in their life. Even if some don't want help, at least there's a glimmer of hope for those who really want it.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    The problem I have with legalizing prostitution is that the action by itself creates a whole new set problems...
    1. The average hooker out there will not be willing to identify herself as such.
    2. Even if some do, a whole new set of rules (summons, prosecution, etc) will have to be established
    3. The average Pimp will not want to have "his girls" listed... (at least not all of them)
    4. How will the Pimps represent their "income" in their 1040...? LOL
    5. "Health Certifiacate" regulations will have to be established to deal with the specifics of the "job"... LOL
    6. Will the hooker pay taxes based on their actual "income" or based on a pro-rated average..?
    7. If so, what happens when nobody wants a.... (censored) and they make no money...?
    8. What if they get some sexually transmitted crap, they can't work and apply for un-employment...? Would that count...? LOL
    9. What will happen with the MALE hookers...? Would they claim "descrimination" and take their case to the Supreme Court...? After all, you can't descriminate based on sex.... LOL
    Should I go on...? No, I guess I shouldn't...
    Just my viewpoint guys....

  • 1979_max50

    Robocop33

    over 4 years ago

    14618 Comments

    Noah, It would not be that big of a deal to legalize it and control it. The Health Dept. would take care of the issuing of the "health Certificate" and then they would pay for their "permit" or whatever you want to call it, maybe a license at the local County tax office. Operating without this health Certificate or 'permit' would be a serious violation punishable by 1 yr in prison, period. Cuts out the pimps who I really detest, and makes money for the County and makes it safer and healthier for the 'working girls'. I would NEVER consider approving 'Crack" or any other 'heavy drug' as they are too dangerous. I do think that the personal use of pot should be either made legal like alcohol with consumption taxes or at least decriminalized as we are putting way too much money and manpower on enforcing this mild drug. Not worth it. FYI I do not and never did smoke pot or use any other illegal drug and don't smoke and very seldom drink so there is nothing personal involved, just a logical observation. Also, I would not use the services of a hooker, period.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    I just hope it works... Meanwhile, I'll refrain from rating this "experiment"

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    eddie48

    over 4 years ago

    14 Comments

    well, if it helps prevent, reduce or bring closesure to unsolved crime it's all good.

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