Texas Reconsiders Law Imprisoning Prostitutes as Waste of Money
Budget problems have some Texas lawmakers reconsidering a tough anti-prostitution law that has sent hundreds behind bars, where it costs tens of thousands of dollars to house inmates.
Spurred by Dallas’s ongoing problems with hookers at truck stops and on city streets, the state legislature in 2001 adopted a law that authorized prosecutors to charge prostitutes with a felony and send them to state prison if they receive three misdemeanor prostitution convictions.
Eleven years later, the prison system now has more than 350 prostitutes taking up bed space in the Texas correctional system, with dozens more serving time for drug and theft charges related to the sex trade.
This means a prostitute sentenced to a state correctional facility is costing taxpayers $18,538 a year, and those sent to lower-security state jail are costing $15,500 annually.
Criminal justice reformers argue that convicted sex workers belong in community-based programs that cost considerably less, about $4,300 a year.
Lawmakers are expected to reconsider the law when they reconvene next January. One idea could involve sending prostitutes to a special court, such as those used for drug addicts.
To Learn More:
Texas Rethinks Law Making Repeat Prostitution A Felony (by Mike Ward, Austin American-Statesman)
Dallas Police Aim to Help, not Jail, Prostitutes (by Jeff Carlton, Associated Press)
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