Dallas County Program Helps Women Leave Prostitution

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The county's Prostitution Diversion Initiative is designed to give people arrested on suspicion of prostitution a chance at a better life through counseling, literacy and life skills programs.

    Dallas County deputies and health officials are on a mission to help women escape prostitution.

    The county's Prostitution Diversion Initiative is designed to give people arrested on suspicion of prostitution a chance at a better life through counseling, literacy and life skills programs.

    "It takes a village to redirect an adult," Sheriff Lupe Valdez said.

    A woman going by the name Jackie Jones who is going through the program spoke Wednesday to a crowd of police, health care professionals and media about her experiences. She said she was a prostitute to support her drug habit.

    "I'm a survivor," she said. "I'm a living example of what people do and survive."

    The county's program is also key to tracking and reducing sexually transmitted diseases and HIV, which are spreading at alarming rates.

    Violent attacks against prostitutes are also increasing, officials say. Police say serial killers often prey on young prostitutes, thinking no one will care if they are missing because they are are out on the streets.

    The county initiative takes takes DNA samples from prostitutes and enters them into a database so they can be identified if they are killed.

    "They have the right -- their families have to right -- to know what's happened to them in the event they've lost their lives," said Dr. Art Eisenberg, of the UNT Health Sciences Center.

    Jones said she had failed when she previously participated in the program but said she was tired and ready to make a life change when she was arrested in December 2010. The resources were there, and someone cared in the moment when she needed that push, Jones said.

    "I have regained custody of my son. I had a beautiful daughter this past year and am currently getting my own place," she said. "I'm proud to say I have been clean since December the second, 2010."