Bill gives cities school for those who pay for sex

POSTED: Friday, May 13, 2011 - 3:54pm
UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 8:54am

WACO -- The state is working to pass a bill providing a class for those so called "johns", people who pay for sex.

 Like any business, Waco's prostitution market exists because there's a demand for the illicit service.

"It's every day people. Teachers, preachers, doctors, some lawyers, restaurant owners," says reformed prostitute, Sheronda Johnson.

Johnson says she was a prostitute from the age of 12 until about ten years ago. She now teaches a "John" class provided by the Waco Police Department, aimed to cut back on the demand for prostitution.

"There are other crimes going on right around you while you do this, and you don't know what you're going to wind up getting in the middle of. "

Waco is one of just 40 cities that already has the "John" school. It's for first-time offenders with a clean record.

Investigator Allen Thompson says classes show first time offenders what they're really getting into.

"You've got a lot of spin off crimes that can happen just with the act of prostitution. You know, burglaries. We've had prostitutes tell us hey we robbed these guys, we found out where they live."

You may be surprised to know what streets get their share of the action, but police say a lot of prostitution arrests are made all over the city.

Johnson, now on her way to a degree in Criminal Justice, says before the "John" school, it used to be much worse.

"People couldn't even let their children outside to play or their grandchildren outside to play because we would walk up and down the street smoking crack out in the open."

Investigator Anita Johnson  started the school in Waco about eight years ago. She goes undercover as a prostitute to bust people who are paying for sex. Investigator Johnson says she brought the school here, thinking it would cut down on prostitution and be a better use for resources and tax dollars while protecting our neighborhoods.

"Sometimes just going to jail doesn't work. I had numerous repeat offenders just in the years that I've been working out there on the street. So we wanted to try something different," said Investigator Johnson.

Since the school began in 2002, out of hundreds of arrests there have been only 3 repeat offenders.

If the Senate passes the bill,  the entire state could be getting their own program.

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