MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Neighbors say they run out in traffic even jump in cars, and they are glad police rounded up 10 women in a sting charging them with prostitution. But one justice system advocate says this pandemic is no time to be putting women in jail who get right back out.
A man who wanted to be known as “Big Country” says he is glad the Memphis Police Department rounded up 10 women, charging them with prostitution in the Jackson and Decatur area and the South Parkway Bellevue area.
“It’s a disgrace. It makes the neighborhood look bad. The neighborhood needs to be rebuilt and prostitution needs to be gone,” neighbor Big Country said.
The women were arrested during an undercover sting a week ago with officers posing as customers. The arrests were made near Humes Middle and Soulsville Charter School.
The women ranged in age from 25 to 51 years old. Police reports say all of the women agreed to a sex act for money.
A 51-year-old woman, who did not want to be identified, was one of the women arrested.
“It’s just about surviving to be honest with you, it’s about surviving,” she said.
She says she’s basically homeless. She was at a place that helps homeless people when we found her.
Josh Spickler is the executive director of Just City, an organization that works for a more humane and fair justice system.
“We’re bringing them into a jail to a congregate setting where they don’t need to be in. The risk of catching COVID-19 is huge in the jail, and why would you do this anytime but now especially?” Spickler explained.
On top of coronavirus concerns, Spickler says the arrests for a crime that is a misdemeanor does nothing to help the women who have problems that need to be addressed like substance abuse and mental health issues.
He also has another concern.
“It’s astounding to me that we continue to demand more police officers in the police force, and we are sending our police officers to round up people charged with street-level prostitution,” Spickler said.
Big Country is glad police are making the arrests.
“That’s awesome. They need to do that. It’s scary, got little kids around here,” he said.
WMC Action News 5′s Janice Broach asked Memphis Police for an interview or a statement about why the operation was necessary, but I never heard back.