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UNTHSC Collaborates With Law Enforcement to Provide Alternatives to Dallas Prostitutes
Date:8/25/2009

f itinerant truckers throughout the country."

Background

In October 2007, the Dallas Police Department launched a program to treat prostitutes as victims, rather than criminals, bringing resources and services from a large mix of organizations onto the streets where the prostitutes work. Recognizing that violence and substance abuse are commonly associated with prostitution, criminal justice systems, social services and public health providers were included in the project that offers prostitutes alternatives to arrest and incarceration.

Results

Since its inception in October 2007, the PDI has contacted 351 prostitutes in Dallas. The average PDI participant is African American (74 percent), female (95 percent) and 37 years old (ranged from 18-63). Half reported completing at least a high school education. Of prostitutes contacted, 68 percent were caregivers with at least one mental health condition. The majority were eligible for immediate treatment services.

  • Within its first year, nine of the 10 participants completing treatment remained off the streets and on the road to recovery. Today, 19 are on track to leave prostitution.
  • Preliminary evaluation suggests that the prostitutes abuse drugs (approximately 95 percent) for self-medication to address multiple mental health conditions and cope with risky behaviors.

The program appears to be working. Findings show that the success of community organizations and public health agencies partnering with law enforcement agencies brings needed resources directly to the streets where a vulnerable population often experiences barriers to care.

The PDI will continue its monthly sting operations around the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, and other cities are considering similar operations. For more information, go to

SOURCE University of North Texas Health Science Center
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