Rockford Prostitutes Not Getting Help They Need

By: Meghan Dwyer Email
By: Meghan Dwyer Email

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Rockford's Chief of Police says he's afraid the court system is becoming a revolving door for prostitutes. "I'm seeing the same people being arrested, time over and time over again," Chief Chet Epperson says.

He says his department is trying to figure out what happens to prostitutes after they're arrested.

This summer only 8 women were arrested for the offense. The longest jail sentence was 18 days. Most bond out and never return for their court dates. Many need drug and alcohol counseling, but only a fraction of the women actually receive that kind of help through the courts.

"They're intoxicated, they're doing drugs," Epperson says. "It's not just prostitution, there's a whole cadre of things that area illegal."

Thirty women have been arrested since May of 2011. Court records suggest a majority have been arrested more than once..only to get out of jail and return to life on the streets.

"When they leave the system from whatever sentence they have, their compulsion to return to that way of life is strong," says Winnebago County State's Attorney Joe Bruscato.

"But you're not going to prosecute away prostitution - we have to be addressing the issues that are driving them to prostitution."

His office started a diversion program in January to help first-time offenders avoid jail time and get help from a variety of agencies.

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