A New Home for Hookers

A special court was set up in Cook County this month, and it's just for prostitutes. The goal is to rehabilitate people charged with felony prostitution, a group that largely contains repeat offenders. Prostitution is usually a misdemeanor offense at first, but after several offenses, it becomes a felony.

The new court is a pilot program, but not the first of its kind. Many counties have drug courts that work the same way. The focus is more on rehab and educational programs, and following defendants' progress, rather than pushing them through the system just to see them back in the same place a year later. Unlike drug court, the new court won't be called prostitute court, at least not officially. It's called WINGS (Women in Need of Gender Specific Services).

It's up to each defendant whether to participate in the program. A defendant has the option of taking a traditional sentence instead, such as a year in jail, and some are choosing to do so. Why would they possibly choose jail over freedom? They know the system. They know their sentence can easily be only six months, or even less. And for some, that might be a safer bet. The probation includes checking in often, taking drug tests, appearing back in court regularly, etc. The reform program is two years.

Almost anyone charged with felony prostitution will be eligible for the program. You have to plead guilty, spend 90 days in jail (in a special treatment unit), and then continue with services. The program includes ongoing drug and alcohol treatment, therapy for abuse, housing, job training, and mentors.

Our take is that this is great, in theory. And we really hope it turns some lives around. But we have to include a word of caution. If you are charged with felony prostitution, or any felony for that matter, don't take any deal - like pleading guilty in exchange for probation - without considering all your options. A good defense attorney will look at any defenses you might have, analyze the legality of your arrest, negotiate for a lesser charge, etc. Pleading guilty to a felony is serious business. And even though the focus here is on hope and reform, it's still a courtroom with a real judge and real consequences.



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  • So if the new court for female prostitutes is WINGS then what is it for male prostitutes? Or has the city forgotten about the male prostitutes around this city and want to make it just a woman thing like they are the only ones selling their bodies around here? This seems a very sexist thing if you ask me! I am glad that they are doing something about the issue but they need to cover all bases not just one.

  • I agree with Brandi and why not take it even further? How about a program for the repeat customers of prostitution? They could call it JOHNS - Jerk Offs Having Nookie with Streetwalkers. Give me a break!

  • Not that I support prostitution, but how realistic is it to expect any kind of success from this? It is not the oldest profession in the world by coincidence, and it is largely a victimless crime, so why do we have to continually "get tough" on it? I would much rather see energy and resources placed into improving the conditions that make people go into prostitution.

  • From what I hear from my wife who works in rape advocacy, I disagree with the assessment that it's a victimless crime. It's very dangerous, and many prostitutes are often trafficked, raped and beaten.

    My opinion is that the cops should be going after those seeking prostitution much more than those offering the services.

  • Aw heck! With all the hemming and hawing over how to pay for all the entitlements we have,and all the cowardice that politicians demonstrate when it comes to raising taxes to pay for social services, why not legalize prostitution, regulate it and tax it rather than spend more money on some enforcement B.S.? People are gonna buy the services of willing providers and legalization with proper controls would make it a safer profession for both escort and customer.

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